Can you work while on disability?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has rules that regulate your ability to work while on disability. It is important to note that people on SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) are approved for benefits because they are unable to work due to a variety of reasons. However, since many disabled individuals would prefer to work rather than receive benefits, the SSA allows a nine-month Trial Work Period to assess whether your earnings are substantial. A “trial work month” is any month in which your earnings exceed $970, and the Trial Work Period continues until you have a total of nine trial work months within a 60-month period.

After the Trial Work Period, if the SSA considers earnings to be substantial they will be halted. Here are some numbers to put things into perspective: Earnings in 2022 of more than $1,350 per month (or $2,260 for the blind) over the following 36 months are considered substantial. At this income level, cash payments will no longer be received. This can be referred to as “substantial gainful activity” or SGA.

It is important to remember that if a SSDI benefit receiver returns to work or if their medical condition improves, they must inform the SSA. While a benefits receiver can can earn a minimal income while receiving SSDI payments, earning more than the $970 monthly threshold will trigger a more thorough review of your circumstances.