Employment and Earnings

Can you work while you are applying for disability? Yes, you can work while applying for Social Security disability; however, there are some limits to how much you can earn. In order to be found disabled, you must be unable to perform substantial gainful activity due to a medically determinable impairment that has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months or longer, or result in death.

The Social Security Administration puts a dollar amount on gross earnings that they consider to be substantial gainful activity. In 2015, that amount is $1,090 per month or $1,820 if you are blind. ‘Gross earnings’ means your income before any taxes or other deductions are taken from your check.

If you are self employed, then the rules are different because your monthly income may not reflect the work that you do. In general, the Social Security Administration will consider your activities and their value to your business to determine if you have performed substantial gainful activity (e.g., you may be found to be performing substantial gainful activity if you are self employed and working 40 hours per week, even if you are earning less than $1,090).

The Social Security Administration has other programs and incentives for people currently receiving disability benefits to return to work or increase their earnings.