WILL MY ATTEMPTS TO WORK AFFECT MY APPLICATION FOR SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY?
Claimants often ask if it will hurt their chances of getting Social Security Disability if they work prior to applying for Social Security Disability benefits. Most times, the answer is yes, but not always. Clearly, if you are able to work and earn above a certain amount, you not are disabled by the Social Security Administration’s standards. However, there are two ways that work may not significantly hurt your disability application. The first is if you did not work full time and did not earn more than a certain amount because your disability made you unable to work more. The second is if you attempted work for a short time but could not continue it due to your disability. This is called an unsuccessful work attempt, but the work attempt must meet certain conditions.
If the work does not constitute substantial gainful activity, and the reason it is unsubstantial is that your impairment will not permit you to work or earn more, you may still be found to be disabled for time period you were working. In 2017, any amount greater than $1170 earned in a month constitutes substantial gainful activity. In 2016, any amount greater than $1130 is substantial gainful activity.
Your attempt at work of less than three months will be found unsuccessful if your impairment forced you to stop working or reduce the amount of work so that your earnings fall below the substantial gainful activity earnings level. Also, there must have been a significant period of a lack of qualifying work done prior to the unsuccessful work attempt.
If you worked between three and six months and your impairment forced you to stop working, you must also show some additional factors in order for the period to be considered an unsuccessful work attempt. These would include frequent absences from work as a result of your impairment, unsatisfactory work product because of your impairment during that time, a temporary remission of you impairment that enabled you to work during that time, or if there were special conditions or accommodations of your disability that allowed you to work for that time and they were removed, causing your subsequent inability to work.
A period of more than six months of work at the substantial gainful activity level will, in most cases, render you ineligible for benefits.
If you have questions regarding your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits, you may want to speak to an experienced disability attorney.