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Brad Thomas Disability PLLC

Can You Work While Applying For Social Security Disability Benefits?

Right off the bat, generally, it’s a real bad idea to work while you have disability claim pending. You’re going to need a convincing reason to tell the judge as to why you couldn’t work more and you need to apply for disability. In certain circumstances, it can be helpful to work while applying for disability. But the basic rule is:

“as long as you’re making less than $1,470 in 2023”

It could be off a little bit with $1 amount, so long as you’re under that what’s called substantial gainful activity, or SGA. For short, so long as you’re under SGA, the SSA says that you can still apply for disability benefits, and not just get flat out denied.

My experience, though, is that if you’re working close to the max, anywhere close to the max, even half of the max making around $700 a month, it’s really hard to win those cases judges just want to deny them, they’re very easy to deny. For judges, it’s like, hey, they’re already working some so if they can pick up another shift, they’d be over SGA and making over $1,400 a month. So case denied. And so if you’re trying to keep it under SGA, you need to be making $300 / $400 / $500 a month is really what you should be looking for. And no work at all is way better than that.

The other situation where work comes into play with disability is failed work attempts. So if you have a job that lasts for less than six months, while you’re applying for disability benefits, regardless of how many hours you’re working, or how much you’re making a month, less than six months failed work attempt does not affect your claim for disability benefits, or at least that’s what the SSA says. Really how it works is:

“the shorter that your job lasts, the better off for you”

It is because you’re proving to the SSA “Hey, I went out and got a job. And it lasted for one month and I got fired for the reasons that I’m applying for disability benefits in the first place.” It just makes sense, it can make cases seem a WHOLE LOT STONGER, especially for people under 50.

That kind of proof can make a difference in disability cases getting granted in my opinion, not a silver bullet, but it can make cases look stronger. But of course, the closer you are to the full six months, the more skeptical your disability judge is going to be if you have a to two failed work attempts of five months each and they’re both back to back, it’s going to be like well, you know, it looks like this guy can or or gal can can really work. Even if it’s not true, you were getting write ups and you’re hanging on by a thread the whole time. That’s just kind of the narrative that takes hold. But three or four work attempts all of one month to two months while your disability claims pending, where you’re trying to work full time hours. I’m excited to present that to a judge because it kind of proves we’re there to talk about in the first place.

My general advice is to not work if at all possible. While your disability claims pending. Some people need to make ends meet while while their claims pending. And I understand that that’s very likely going to cause your case to get denied. In certain circumstances. It can make a case stronger but wouldn’t exactly encourage people to go out and try to work a bunch of short one month jobs and get fired to make their case stronger. The best bet is just to not work at all.


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