Work & Disability Benefits

There’s a big misconception that if you are receiving disability benefits then you are not allowed to work or you’ll have your disability benefits cut off immediately. That’s just not true! While the rules can vary from state to state, here are some basic things that anyone receiving disability benefits should know if they want to try to go to work.

Figure Out Which Type of Benefits You Receive

There are two basic types of benefits people with disabilities generally receive: Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). There are different rules for people who receive SSD than for people who receive SSI, so it’s important to know which type of benefits you’re receiving before you begin the process of going to work. If you’re not sure which type of benefits you’re receiving, you can always contact the Social Security Administration and ask!

Working While Receiving SSD

If you receive SSD, you can go back to work for a “trial work period” of at least nine months and still receive your SSD benefits at the same time, no matter how much you earn! The key factor is that you must report your work to the Social Security Administration. As long as you report that you’re working, you can still receive your benefits and earn your wages! In 2019, a “trail work” month is any month that you earn over $880. If you earn less than that, it doesn’t count. In fact, you can take a part time job and earn less than $880 every month and not put your benefits in jeopardy. But if you do want to transition to full time work, the trial work period can help you by allowing you to earn full time wages and continue receiving SSD for nine months. If you continue working beyond the 9 months, that’s great! You’ll be able to receive SSD for any month in the next 36 months that your earnings are less than $1,220 (as of 2019). You’ll also be able to keep your Medicare part A for 93 months!

Working While Receiving SSI

SSI benefits are paid to people who are age 65 or disabled, and who have limited income or resources. Each state has a different limit on how much a person receiving SSI can earn from working while still receiving SSI, but in every state a person can at least earn some money and still receive SSI. Additionally, even if you begin earning more than the SSI allowable levels, you may still be allowed to keep your Medicaid coverage. SSI beneficiaries can also participate in a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS). The purpose of PASS is to help SSI beneficiaries create plans and get items, services, and skills to achieve work goals. Money you use to help you achieve your PASS goals will not count as income and will not impact your SSI benefits. This means you can set aside money to go to school or start your own business! You’ll need to contact the Social Security Administration to talk to them about your PASS and have them approve it, but once it’s approved, you’ll be on your way to achieving your goals without having to worry about losing your benefits! 

About Stephanie: Stephanie Woodward is a brand ambassador for Quantum Rehab and works as a disability rights activist. She has received many awards for helping communities become more accessible, as well as for her actions in fighting for the rights of disabled individuals as it relates to Medicaid and other support services. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.