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Is Working While On Disability a Contradiction?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Working while on Social Security Disability

 

You know someone who has been involved in an accident that has affected his ability to perform his duties at work. He applies for disability, and receives it; but then you find out that he is working at another job.

You scratch your head and wonder how it’s possible that someone who is receiving disability is able to continue working. Isn’t that some sort of conflict of interest? Actually, it isn’t. As surprising as it may sound, the government actually offers incentives to those who are on disability. The aim of these incentives is to encourage those who are on disability to return to work so that they can regain financial independence.

Take the case of a banquet server from California. She worked for more than 3 decades and was involved in a serious car accident that left her with ruptured disks in her back and neck. She required physical therapy and surgery, and was no longer able to keep up with the physical demands of her job. This forced her to file for disability.

Since she had a good work history and paid into Social Security, she was eligible to collect Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) when she needed it. While on disability, she received the funds she needed to pay bills and other expenses. However, once she recovered to a point where she felt like she could return to work, she decided to take advantage of the government-sponsored “Ticket to Work” program. This program allowed her to learn a new skill, data-entry, which she now uses in her new position.

She started out earning minimum wage, which wasn’t enough to pay her bills. The wage she earned, coupled with the funds she received from her SSDI allowed her to make ends meet. She was eventually promoted to a supervisory position in her new-found job, and was able to support herself financially from the wage she earned from her new job.

How Does It Work?

There are two types of Social Security benefits that people with disabilities can qualify for: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). People can qualify for one or both, and both offer the option to work and collect benefits at the same time.

In short, in order to qualify for either type of disability, the following criteria must be met:

  • Suffered a disability that will last for a year or longer
  • Worked a specific period of time
  • Must have paid Social Security taxes

During the trial period of the work incentive program, an individual tests his or her ability to work while still receiving full disability. All work activity has to be reported, and they must earn at least $770 a month.

The work incentive programs that the government offers those who are on disability has positively impacted many people’s lives.

Should you have any questions about  whether you are eligible to apply for Social Security Disability benefits,  please feel free to call or fill out the contact us form at the top of this page.

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