Can I work while I am on Social Security disability?

Yes, you can work while you are on social security disability benefits – but the rules are complicated and many people end up losing their benefits trying to work.

If you receive Social Security disability benefits and return to work, you are required to report changes in your income to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Failure to do so could result in penalties and loss of benefits.

Reporting Requirements for Returning to Work

You must report promptly any changes in your income or work circumstances to the SSA, such as the following:

  • You start working again or stop working;
  • Your duties, hours or pay rate change; or
    You start paying for impairment-related work expenses.

You can report any changes to your work/income in four ways: by phone (800) 556-9115 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday), fax, mailing a letter to your local SSA office, or in person.

You’ll want to keep your proof of income, such as paystubs, as well as the receipt that SSA will give you that verifies you reported your income changes in a safe place in case you need to support your claim.

What will happen to your disability benefits?

If you return to work, the SSA will often initiate a continuing disability review of your case and determine whether or not you still meet the eligibility requirements to receive disability benefits.

  • SSDI – If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and begin working at the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level, your eligibility will cease in the month shown by the evidence. The SSA will continue to pay SSDI benefits for the cessation month and the following two months, as per the three-month grace period.
  • SSI – If you are on Social Security Income (SSI), “you are not eligible for an SSI payment for any months you do not meet the non-disability eligibility requirements, for example, the income or resources tests,” explains the SSA.

Note, even if you return to work at the SGA level and your SSDI benefits are shut off, your SSDI benefits may continue if your earnings fall below SGA within the SSA’s Extended Period of Eligibility.

Consulting a Disability Lawyer about Returning to Work

The SSA has several helpful return-to-work programs that those receiving disability benefits can utilize while keeping their benefits safe. These programs are complicated and designed such that people that use them often lose their benefits. Unfortunately, sometimes benefits cease prematurely when a claimant returns to work. If you have problems with your disability benefits or questions about how returning to work will impact your benefits, we encourage you to consult a lawyer.

If you are considering returning to work, call Chad Brown Law first at (336) 962-5373 so we can help you make decisions that won’t jeopardize your benefits.

Our firm focuses on three practice areas: Disability, Personal Injury, and Eminent Domain. Every practice area has attorneys who have expertise in their respective area of practice. 

Chad Brown is a North Carolina Board Certified Social Security disability law specialist. Mr. Brown helps Social Security disability claimants at all stages of the disability process. He also works with people that have Long Term Disability denials and with people that are injured by drugs and defective medical products.

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