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Can you file for disability benefits while working part-time?

What happens if you’re still working a few hours but you know that you really need to file for Social Security Disability benefits?

Generally speaking, in order to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSDI), you cannot be performing substantial gainful activity (SGA) at the time you file for benefits. Exactly what the Social Security Administration (SSA) defines as “substantial” varies according to a dollar amount that changes yearly with the rate of inflation. According to the newest figures for 2021, a person who isn’t blind can earn an additional $1,310 per month and still get benefits. A person who is blind can earn up to $2,190 per month and still qualify. Anyone earning over that amount (before taxes) is considered gainfully employed and ineligible for benefits.

However, it’s important to understand that SSA won’t merely examine the dollar amount you make when they make a determination on your disability claim. Even if you are earning less than the SGA dollar amount, the claims examiner may use your work activity to cast doubt on your disability — especially if they believe you have always worked part-time or simply cannot find full-time work. On the other hand, if you are only able to work with significant accommodations from your employer, that tends to lend weight to your disability claim.

Situations in which a person is able to earn a little money while waiting on a disability claim can be complex. If you’re in a position where you’re able to work a few hours a week but really need to file a disability claim, it may be wise to get some experienced assistance. Social Security Disability claims are notoriously difficult, so you don’t want to make any mistakes.

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