How Changes in Personal Finances Affect SSD Eligibility

Returning to work and generating an income will impact your Social Security disability (SSD) benefits. Contrary to popular belief, however, this does not necessarily mean you will lose your SSD eligibility and benefits entirely.

A Social Security disability lawyer from Ascend Disability can show you exactly how the system works along with the various factors considered when calculating your SSD benefit amount once your income stream starts to flow again.

What Does “Substantial Gainful Activity” Mean?

One of the commonly used terms when determining SSD eligibility and calculating benefits while working is “substantial gainful activity” or “SGA.” The basic definition is that SGA is the level at which you are able to work enough to gain a substantial income.

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), a person no longer qualifies for disability benefits if he or she engages in SGA.

How Is SGA Calculated?

There are income limits released each year that essentially set the boundary for how much a disability benefits recipient can make before losing those benefits. This limit is typically adjusted annually to align with cost-of-living increases and inflation.

For example, the limit in 1975 was $200 per month for all people (blind and non-blind). Nearly five decades later, the limit for 2024 is $2,590 for people who are statutorily blind and $1,550 for non-blind people.

How Does The Trial Work Period Affect My SSD Eligibility?

Once an individual becomes eligible to receive SSD benefits, he or she can try to return to the workforce. The SSA established the “trial work period” as an incentive that encourages recipients to return to work without worrying about the sudden blow of the financial loss of the disability benefit payments.

once you manage to get a job you may not qualify for SSD

A common misconception is that a person’s first day of work essentially sends out a red flag that they no longer need disability benefits. The SSA makes it clear to benefit recipients that work done during this trial period does not convey the message that they are no longer disabled right away. The timeline is typically 9 months of services rendered within a rolling 60-month period.

Which Months Count Towards the 9-Month Limit?

How do you know which months count towards the 9-month limit of the trial work period? The SSA has provided another income limit that can help you identify which months count towards the trial work period and which ones are not considered. For the year of 2024, you will need to make at least $1,110 for that month to count.

It is important to keep track of the income limits for previous years as well – especially since you must focus on the rolling 60-month period when determining if you are still eligible for the trial work period or not.

For instance, the income limit for 2023 was $60 less ($1,050). Therefore, making at least $1,050 for seven months in 2023 and then $1,110 for two months in 2024 would conclude your trial work period. This is why it is important to stay on top of tracking your income month-by-month as you are collecting disability benefits.

Who Do I Contact About My Income Changes?

If you need to report a change in your income, then you should contact the local Social Security office as soon as possible. The objective of that phone call should be to confirm exactly how and when your earnings need to be reported.

In most cases, you are able to report this information over the phone, through the mail, or in person at the local office. It is highly suggested that you consult with an experienced SSD attorney before you sign any official documentation or schedule any appointments.

This will be the best way for you to get all the information that you need upfront and get your questions answered in a timely fashion. The last thing that you want to do is subject yourself to additional fines, penalties, or harsher consequences simply because of misinformation, a missed deadline, or a miscalculation.

Schedule a Consultation with a Social Security Disability Lawyer Today

Getting the wheels of your income stream spinning again is a major step of your overall recovery process. Navigating the turbulent process of determining your SSD eligibility can take a toll. Fortunately, you can contact the team of Social Security disability attorneys at Ascend Disability today to lighten the load and get the timely assistance that you need.

Call us today at (855) 809-4873 to schedule your free consultation and get your questions answered right away.

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