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Can you work and still obtain Social Security benefits?

Having a disability can be an isolating experience. Many people lack the ability to work full time, but still want to get out of the house.

In these circumstances, would they be able to work and still obtain Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? The answer is yes, with certain restrictions and guidelines.

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), an individual can receive monthly SSDI or SSI payments and also have a part time job. There are rules pertaining to working while on disability, however, that must be taken into consideration. These rules apply if you are already on disability as well as if you are applying for benefits.

If you are on SSDI

Individuals who are already receiving SSDI benefits may be eligible for what is called a trial work period. This allows you to test out your ability to work for at least nine months with no income restrictions. These months do not have to be consecutive, just nine months within a 60 month period where you earned more than a certain amount, which is $840 in 2017.

After the trial work period, you may work for a 36 month extended eligibility period. Your benefits will continue if your income doesn't exceed the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit. In 2017, this amounts to $1,170 per month, $1,950 per month if you are blind.

If you are on SSI

For SSI, you may also work with certain income restrictions. The exact amount can vary, depending on the state. There is a federal benefit rate (FBR) limit, which currently amounts to $735 per month for individuals and $1,103 for couples. North Carolina adds a state supplement of $554 per month which makes the limit significantly higher than the federal standard.

If you are applying for SSDI or SSI

In most situations, you should be able to work part time while applying for benefits. The same income limits apply, however, and you must use extra caution not to work too many hours - as it may affect the success of your application.

In any of these situations, you may wish to consult with an Social Security disability attorney. They can provide advice and guidance for your specific situation.

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