Can I Work While My Social Security Disability Claim is Pending?
One of the most commonly asked questions in my practice is whether a Social Security Disability claimant can work while they are waiting for their benefits to be approved. Technically, the answer is yes, though many attorneys may counsel you otherwise.
You can work while your SSDI claim is pending, as long as your earnings do not exceed the earnings threshold for Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). If your gross (pre-tax and other deductions, not how much you take home) monthly earnings exceed $1,170.00 per month in 2017, you will be denied for SGA purposes. The Social Security Administration (SSA) believes that if you can make enough money and be engaging in SGA, then you are not functionally limited enough to be considered disabled.
The reason many attorneys will counsel against working while filing for SSDI benefits is that it does add a layer of difficulty to your claim. It will be necessary to explain to SSA and/or the judge why you can work a little bit and make some money, but not enough to support yourself. If you have fewer hours at work than others who do your job, or if you are given other special accommodations to do your work, those are also helpful to you and your claim.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you are upfront and honest with your attorney and Social Security – you don’t want to go through all the trouble of being determined to be disabled only to find out that you make too much money to receive any benefits!