Can I work while I file for Social Security benefits?

Posted March 26, 2015 by Premier Disability Services, LLC® The process of filing for disability benefits can sometimes take up to two years before a claimant receives benefits. This often leaves them without any income for significant periods of time. As a result, one of the most common questions we receive is about whether a claimant can work while their claim for disability benefits is pending. Unfortunately, the answer is not as simple as a yes or no.

The short answer is yes you can work while you are filing for Social Security Disability benefits. A common misconception is that being found disabled by the Social Security Administration (SSA) means you must be unable to perform any work, even part-time employment. Social Security defines disability as “an inability to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to a medically determinable impairment which has lasted, or is expected to last 12 months (or result in death).” In 2015, the monthly earnings amount considered SGA is $1,090 for non-blind individuals and $1,820 for blind individuals. In technical terms, as long as a person does not earn in excess of this amount they will not be ineligible for disability benefits based on their earnings. Unfortunately, it is not always that simple.

Claimants should remember that even if their work activity is not a factor that will technically disqualify them from receiving benefits, it will certainly be a factor that is considered when SSA makes the decision whether their conditions are medically disabling. In other words, even work that is well below the SGA level may be used as evidence supporting a finding that the claimant is not disabled. For example, a 34 year old individual who works only 15 hours per week at an iron mill may have a hard time proving they cannot work 40 hours a week in a call center.

The decision to work while a claim for Social Security Disability benefits is pending can be difficult to make. To be frank, if a claimant can make it through their disability claim without working they should try to do so since any work can be considered as an unsupportive factor. However, each individual claimant must look at their own circumstances, and the circumstances of their family, when making this decision.

Even if you are working part-time, it does not necessarily mean you cannot be found disabled. Hiring an experienced Representative can be helpful to minimize the negative effect work activity can have on your claim. If you have a pending disability claim, or are thinking of filing a claim, please contact our office for a free evaluation.


By: Thomas A. Klint of Premier Disability Services, LLC®