Question

Can I work while receiving disability benefits in Pennsylvania?

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Thomas J. Giordano, Jr. - Social Security Disability - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Thomas J. Giordano, Jr.

Located in Philadelphia, PAPond Lehocky Giordano

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Answer

You can work while receiving disability benefits, but if you want to keep receiving your benefits, you will likely need to limit your work. The government has named a dollar amount for “substantial gainful activity” (SGA), at which point your benefits amount will go down. The idea is that you do not need it anymore. SGA varies based on the year, but as of 2018 the earning limit is $1,180 per month for nonblind person and $1,970 for a blind person. 

After you begin receiving benefits, you may start working, but if you earn more than $850, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider it a “trial work month.” You are allowed nine trial work months, where you can earn more than the SGA level. After your trial work period, if you earn more than the SGA level, your benefits amount will go down according to the amount you’ve earned. You will not necessarily lose your entire benefits amount per month. 

The SSA does understand that sometimes you might start working but find yourself unable to continue due to your disability. Even if you work to the point of SGA and lose your benefits, but have to stop working again (or earn less than the SGA level) within the next five years, the SSA will allow you to receive your benefits again without applying. 

There is one important thing to remember if you plan to work while receiving benefits: continue to update the Social Security Administration regarding your job and pay levels. They will adjust your benefits according to how much you are working and earning. Though losing part of your benefits is not appealing, if you neglect to do so, you may be investigated for benefits fraud. 

As you can see, the answer to this question is complicated. An attorney can help you evaluate your situation, make sure you apply correctly and then make sure your benefits are protected for as long as you need them.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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