Always watch your earnings with SSD

Few people who receive Social Security Disability benefits ever become well enough to return to work. The reality of the application process is that most people who retain some residual capacity for work will fail to meet the demanding requirements of the programs statutory definition of disability.

However, with more than 11 million beneficiaries within the program, there are likely to be some individuals who are able to manage to work for a few hours every week, perhaps in a part-time job. For those who do remain working here in the St. Louis area, there is one important number to keep in mind.

One element of SSA's assessment of your disability is whether you can engage in "significant gainful activity" (SGA) and one easy measure they use is how much you earn. If you earn more than $1,130 per month (or $1,820 if you are blind) your application for SSD benefits will be denied and in most cases, if you are receiving SSD benefits, those benefits will be terminated.

For most SSD beneficiaries, this is unlikely to ever be a problem. If you were able to find a job at the minimum wage, you could work almost 38 hours every week. Given the severity of the medical conditions that afflict most people who receive SSD benefits, the prospect of working that many hours is impossible.

For a few, if you have obtained SSD benefits with regular medical treatment along with time away from work, depending on your medical condition or impairment, you could see your condition improve. Working again may become a possibility, but you should remain aware of the SGA limits.

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