Working While Pending A Disability Claim



Working While Pending A Disability Claim

The Social Security process is brutally long, especially if your case goes all the way to a hearing. Social Services and other resources are in very short supply.

How does someone who is pending disability survive? Very few people have savings. A lucky few have friends or family who will support them during a pending claim. Under very limited circumstances, a few are able to access social service resources; and receiving unemployment while your claim is pending could hurt your chances of approval in the long run.

Sometimes the only option, if physically or mentally possible, is to try to work. You may attempt to work, but Social Security has very specific rules regarding working while pending a decision.


Social Security’s definition of disability is the inability to engage in “substantial gainful activity” (“SGA”) for at least a 12 month period. SGA is defined by an earning limit. That earning limit in 2016 is $1170.00 per month. This means that if you earn over $1170.00 per month, YOU ARE NOT DISABLED. In fact, Social Security will not accept an application from anyone working and earning over this amount. There are some rules that may allow you to work and avoid this SGA problem.


Social Security says that if you work and earn over $1170.00 a month, but you work for 3 months or less and you stop working or the income falls below $1170.00 per month for a disability related reason, then Social Security considers this a FAILED/UNSUCCESSFUL work attempt.

If you work over 3 months, you MUST earn under $1170.00 a month. And in fact, it should be quite substantially under that amount. If you work and earn $1129 a month or quit on day 89, you are not going to get off on a technicality and the work will be considered SGA. Social Security also evaluates your CAPACITY TO EARN SGA. So if you are working part-time, but were offered a full time job and could perform the job, then you would not be disabled, even if your employer has no full-time work. Social Security is not evaluating your specific job, but a range of jobs generally available in the national economy.

If you are going to try and work, YOU MUST INFORM US OF YOUR EFFORTS so we may keep you properly advised.

You should be fully aware that even if you fall into the guidelines, Social Security may still find that your efforts to work are evidence you are not disabled.


You MUST keep all of your paycheck records if you decide to work.
Keep a log of any problems you have while working, both on and off the job.
We would suggest you don’t work 8 hours, 3 days a week, shorter hours are better. (4 hours , 5 days a week)
Low key, low energy jobs seem to be allowable.
If you are over 50 and have never done a sit down job, DON’T START doing one now! It significantly changes your burden of proof.
Do not artificially keep your earnings under the allowed amount. If you can work substantially, then you should be and you are not disabled according to Social Security’s rules.
If you were unable to work for 12 months or longer but now can work again, we can ask Social Security to pay for a “closed-in period”, the amount of time that you could not work.
You should be aware that any work you do could offset your SSI or SSDI monthly benefit, both the retroactive pay and current monthly payments if approved for disability

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