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Full-Time Work and the Eligibility Puzzle of Social Security Disability

Updated: Jul 25

Social Security Disability benefits provide financial support to individuals who are unable to work due to a disability. However, it is important to understand that there are specific guidelines and criteria that determine eligibility for these benefits. One key requirement is the inability to work full-time, and many times, even part-time. In this article, we will explore the reasons why working full-time can affect your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits.

  1. Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) Limit: The Social Security Administration (SSA) has set a monthly earnings threshold known as the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) limit. As of 2023, the SGA limit is $1,470 per month for non-blind individuals and $2,460 per month for blind individuals. If you earn above these limits, the SSA considers it substantial gainful activity and may determine that you are not disabled.

  2. Ability to Perform Sustained Work: The purpose of Social Security Disability benefits is to support individuals who are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity due to a disability. If you are working full-time it implies you have the ability to sustain substantial work activity, which may be inconsistent with the criteria for disability benefits. Even if your earnings do not surpass the permissible limit, Social Security will conduct an evaluation of your earning capacity if you are in close proximity to it.

  3. Demonstrating Inability to Work: To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you must demonstrate that your medical condition(s) prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity for a significant duration. Working full-time contradicts this claim and can create doubts about the severity and impact of your disability.

  4. Presumption of Ability to Work: If you are able to work full-time, it can create a presumption that you possess the necessary physical and mental capabilities to perform gainful employment. This presumption may lead the SSA to conclude that you are not disabled and, therefore, not eligible for disability benefits.

  5. Medical Improvement Review: When you receive Social Security Disability benefits, the SSA periodically reviews your case to assess whether your medical condition has improved. If you are working full-time, it can raise questions about the accuracy of your initial disability determination or subsequent reviews, potentially jeopardizing your eligibility for ongoing benefits.

  6. Impact on Medical Evidence: Working full-time may affect the credibility and consistency of your medical evidence. The SSA relies on medical records, doctor's reports, and other evidence to evaluate your disability claim. If you are working full-time, it may be perceived as contradictory to the limitations and impairments described in your medical documentation.

While Social Security Disability benefits provide crucial support to individuals with disabilities, it is important to understand the limitations and requirements for eligibility. Working full-time can impact your eligibility for these benefits due to the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit, the ability to perform sustained work, and the presumption of ability to work. Demonstrating an inability to work and maintaining consistency in your medical evidence are key factors in determining eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits.

©2023 Noel Anschutz / Professional Advocates, Inc.

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