How Much Can You Earn on Disability in 2021?
Living with a disability can present unique challenges, both physically and financially. For individuals who are unable to work due to their disability, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides crucial financial support. However, many recipients often wonder how much they can earn while receiving disability benefits. In this article, we will explore the guidelines for earning income while on disability in 2021.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has established a set of rules known as “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) to determine whether an individual is eligible for disability benefits. In 2021, the SGA limit is $1,310 per month for non-blind individuals and $2,190 per month for blind individuals. This means that if you earn more than these limits, your disability benefits may be affected.
It is important to note that not all income is considered when determining SGA. The SSA excludes certain expenses related to your disability from the calculation. These expenses, known as “Impairment-Related Work Expenses” (IRWE), can include medical treatment, assistive devices, and transportation costs directly related to your employment. By deducting IRWE from your total earnings, you can potentially reduce the impact on your disability benefits.
Now, let’s address some frequently asked questions about earning income on disability:
1. Can I work part-time and still receive disability benefits?
Yes, you can work part-time and still receive disability benefits as long as your earnings do not exceed the SGA limit.
2. What happens if I earn more than the SGA limit?
If you earn more than the SGA limit, your disability benefits may be reduced or stopped altogether.
3. How often does the SGA limit change?
The SGA limit is reviewed annually and can be adjusted based on changes in the national average wage index.
4. Are there any work incentives for individuals on disability?
Yes, the SSA offers various work incentives such as the Trial Work Period, Extended Period of Eligibility, and Expedited Reinstatement of benefits to encourage individuals to return to work.
5. Can I receive disability benefits if I am self-employed?
Yes, self-employed individuals can still receive disability benefits, but their earnings will be closely evaluated to determine if they exceed the SGA limit.
6. Can I receive both disability benefits and unemployment benefits?
No, you cannot receive both disability benefits and unemployment benefits simultaneously. You must choose one or the other.
7. Can I receive disability benefits if I am working and have not reached the SGA limit?
If your earnings are below the SGA limit, you may still be eligible for disability benefits if you meet the SSA’s definition of disability.
8. Can I volunteer while receiving disability benefits?
Yes, volunteering does not affect your disability benefits as long as you are not receiving any form of compensation for your services.
9. Can I earn income from investments while on disability?
Yes, income from investments, such as stocks or rental properties, does not impact your disability benefits.
10. Do I need to report my earnings to the SSA?
Yes, it is important to report any change in your earnings to the SSA promptly. Failure to do so can result in overpayments or penalties.
11. Are there any deductions for work-related expenses?
Yes, you can deduct certain work-related expenses such as transportation costs, specialized equipment, and medical treatments related to your disability.
12. Can I apply for disability benefits if I am currently working?
Yes, you can still apply for disability benefits while working. However, you must meet the SSA’s criteria for disability, including being unable to engage in SGA.
13. Does the SGA limit apply to all individuals on disability?
No, the SGA limit only applies to individuals receiving SSDI benefits. It does not apply to those receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
14. Can I earn income from a side gig while on disability?
Yes, you can earn income from a side gig as long as your earnings do not exceed the SGA limit.
Navigating the guidelines for earning income while on disability can be complex. It is crucial to stay informed about the current SGA limit and report any changes in your earnings to the SSA. Remember, the goal of disability benefits is to provide financial support while allowing individuals to maintain a certain level of work activity. By understanding the rules and work incentives, you can make informed decisions regarding your employment and disability benefits.