Can You Work While Receiving Social Security Disability?

Social Security isn’t just for retirees; it’s also designed to help people with disabilities stay afloat financially. Last year, almost 9 million Americans received Social Security disability benefits. But as useful as those benefits might be, they’re often not enough to help recipients cover their living costs in full. If you’re receiving Social Security disability benefits, there’s good news in this regard: You can work and continue to collect your monthly Social Security payments as long as you meet certain criteria.


To be considered eligible for Social Security disability benefits, you cannot engage in what’s known as substantial gainful activity (SGA). The Social Security Administration defines “substantial” as earning more than a certain amount each month. For 2016, you can work and collect your disability benefits as long as your earnings don’t exceed $1,130 per month, or $1,820 if you’re blind. However, there are also exceptions to this rule.

Trial work period
Sometimes it’s hard to know whether you’ll be able to return to work following a disability. Thankfully, the Social Security Administration allows you to test the waters without compromising your disability benefits. During what’s known as your trial work period, you can test your ability to work for nine months, during which you’ll receive your disability benefits in full, regardless of how much you make. For 2016, any month where you earn over $810 is considered a trial work month. If you’re self-employed, any month where you work more than 80 hours is also considered a trial work month. Your trial period will continue until you’ve worked nine months within a 60-month timeframe.

Extended period of eligibility

Once your trial work period is over, you can still receive disability benefits for any month in which your earnings fall below the SGA threshold. This extended period of…

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