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Can you work part time and still obtain disability benefits?

For many people, having a disability can be an isolating experience. In many cases, they may want to work part-time to get out of the house, keep busy or supplement their disability income.

Is it possible for those who are able to do so to work part time and still receive Social Security Disability benefits? In many situations, the answer is yes, with certain restrictions.

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), an individual can receive monthly payments for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and also obtain a part time job. There are certain parameters for working while on SSDI and SSI, however, as well as for working while you apply for benefits.

If you are already on SSDI, you may ve eligible for what is called a trial work period. This allows you to test your ability to work for at least nine months with no earning restrictions. The nine months do not have to be consecutive, just months when you earn more than a certain amount, which is $810 in 2016.

After the trial work period, there is an extended eligibility period of 36 months. During this time, you may work part time and receive benefits as long as your earnings to not exceed the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit. In 2016, this amounts to $1,130 per month, $1,820 per month if you are blind.

For SSI, the income limit is different in every state. There is still a federal benefit rate (FBR) limit, which in 2016 is $733 per month for individuals and $1,100 for couples. Many states, including North Carolina, add a state supplement which makes the limit higher than the federal standard. In North Carolina this amounts to an additional $544 per month. 

While applying for benefits, you can generally continue to work part time. Your monthly income should not exceed the SGA limit for SSDI or the state income requirements for SSI. It is wise to proceed with caution, as your claim may be denied if you appear able to work too many hours. In these situations, it may be a good idea to obtain advice, guidance and advocacy from a disability attorney.

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