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Several factors determine how much money you may earn while on Social Security disability starting with which program you receive benefits through. The Supplemental Security Income program and the Social Security Disability Insurance program each pays benefits to individuals who are disabled, they each have quite different rules about the money you can earn.

Remember that the place to go for valuable information about benefits and skilled representation in all Social Security matters is Law Firm. A free consultation with a Social security disability lawyer sets your mind at ease. Here, in the meantime, is a look at earnings limits and your Social Security disability benefits.

SSI earned income limit

You may earn up to the SSI federal benefit rate of $794 a month as an individual and $1,191for a couple during 2021. What you earn reduces the amount that SSI pays you each month. However, only countable income is deducted from your monthly payment, so you may end up earning more than the federal benefit rate.

Social Security allows you to exclude certain income from countable monthly income, including the following:

  • The first $20 of either earned or unearned income.
  • The first $65 of earned income.
  • One-half of the amount of earned income after deduction of the first $65.

An example may help to demonstrate how the exclusions help increase your monthly earnings. If you work and earn $1,400 from your employer and have no other income, either earned or unearned, you may exclude the first $20 to make the earned income $1,380. Now, deduct $65 and it leaves you with $1,315, but you can exclude half of it to make your countable income $657.50. Your monthly SSI benefit will be reduced by $657.50 to leave you with an SSI payment of $136.50.

Disabled or blind students who are younger than 22 years of age and qualify for SSI may exclude up to $1,930 in earned income each month up to an annual maximum exclusion of $7,770 through the student earned income exclusion. If you believe that you may be eligible for the exclusion or have a child receiving SSI while attending school, speak to an SSI lawyer at Law Firm for more information about the exclusion.

Earning money while collecting SSDI

To be disabled and eligible for SSDI, you must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment preventing you from engaging in substantial gainful activity. The impairment or impairments must last or be expected to last for at least 12 months or cause death.

Social Security regulations consider anyone earning over $1,310 to be capable of engaging in substantial gainful activity. Individuals who qualify for benefits with statutory blindness may earn up to $2,190 before they are considered capable of engaging in substantial gainful activity.

Money earned during a trial work period while receiving SSDI

If you receive Social Security disability benefits through SSDI and wish to try returning to work, you may do so without jeopardizing your benefits provided you follow the rules for a trial work period. Social Security places no limits on the amount of income you earn during the trial period even if you earn more than the substantial gainful activity amount.

After notifying Social Security that you want to return to work through a trial work period, each month that you earn over $940 counts as one of the nine trial work months. The nine months do not have to be consecutive, but you must complete them within 60 months. For example, if you have only three months during 2021 in which your monthly earned income exceeds $940, you still have six months left to use before the 60-month period expires.

At the end of the trial work period, you may continue working for an extended period of 36 months, but the rules change from the ones that applied during the trial period. During the extended period, Social Security looks at your monthly earnings from work. If they exceed the substantial gainful activity amount of $1,310 for nonblind disability and $2,190 for blindness, Social Security will terminate your SSDI benefits after waiting a three-month grace period.

If your benefits are terminated for earning too much during an extended period, you may request reinstatement through an expedited process. Speak to your SSDI lawyer to learn more about a trial work period and how it may affect you.

Get advice from an experienced SSD lawyer

Learn more about the money you can earn while receiving SSI and SSDI and the options available to you during a consultation with a Social Security disability lawyer at Law Firm. An SSD lawyer can also help with applications for benefits, appeals of adverse decisions, and reinstatement of benefits.

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