How Much Can You Earn in 2021 and Still Get Social Security Disability?

You should know that you can earn income and still continue to receive your Social Security Disability (SSD or SSDI) benefits. London Eligibility and Attorney Scott London want you to have all the information you need to understand the details of your Social Security Disability benefits. As an experienced Social Security lawyer, Scott London and London Eligibility specialize in serving all the needs of our SSD and SSI clients.

How Much You Can Earn and Keep Drawing SSD Benefits

The Social Security Disability monthly earnings limit in 2021 is $1,310 for non-blind SSD benefit recipients and $2,190 for blind recipients. That means for most SSD recipients, you can earn up to $1,310 of income per month (after deductions) and remain at your full benefit level. The limits will be higher in 2022 due to the annual adjustment for inflation. The 2022 monthly earning limit is $1,350.

The Social Security Administration treats earned income differently when you are receiving SSD benefits from how it is handled for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit recipients. In the SSI program, if a person receiving SSI benefits earns more than the permitted amount in any given month, their benefit is reduced by an amount equal to how much they exceeded the earnings limit. But with SSD benefits, unless you are participating in the Trial Work Period plan, if you exceed the $1,310 earnings limit, you are disqualified from getting any benefit, at least for the month in which you exceeded the limit.

What Is the Trial Work Period Program?

The Social Security Administration encourages those SSD benefit recipients who can perform some work to attempt to return to work when they think they can. Of course, many disabilities qualifying for SSD benefits are permanent. But some SSD benefit recipients’ disabling impairments will improve over time, and some will recover completely.

To enable SSD recipients to try working, the government created the Trial Work Period (TWP) program. The TWP program allows SSD recipients to earn income over the $1,310 monthly earnings limit and still keep drawing their full SSD benefit payments. The TWP provides an opportunity for you to exceed the earning limit for nine months in a five-year period. The nine months may be consecutive, but they do not have to be. They simply must be within the 5-year period. Take note, though, that any month in which you earn more than $940 will count as one of your nine TWP months.

Some of Your Earned Income Won’t Count Against the Earnings Limit

You are permitted to deduct certain expenses from your income before you calculate to see if it exceeds the monthly limit. For example, if your disability requires you to pay a personal attendant to assist with your daily living activities (bathing, cooking, cleaning, etc.), then you can deduct those expenses from your gross earnings when you calculate whether you exceeded the SSD earning limit.

Disability-related costs incurred to get to work, or to perform work, are also deductible. Transportation costs to and from work for a mobility-related disability could also be considered deductible.

What Happens If You Exceed the Earnings Limit? Reporting Earnings

If you are working while you receive SSD benefits, your income may fluctuate from month to month. Let’s assume you are not in the Trial Work Period, and you are working in a seasonal business, or you earned an extra fee or commission one month. You would be ineligible for SSD benefits for the month in which you earned more money than the SSD earning limit allows. But if your income returned to a lower level again in the next month, you can receive your SSD benefit without having to reapply or refile. Your continuing disabling impairment qualifies you for benefits in any month in which you do not exceed the earnings limit.

All of these monthly earnings figures are based upon every SSD recipient’s self-reporting their income to the Social Security Administration. Failing to accurately report earned income while collecting SSD benefits can lead to suspension of your benefits or other, more serious consequences.

Contact an Expert SSD Lawyer or Advocate to Learn About the Details of Your Case

At London Eligibility, Attorney Scott London and his team of SSD and SSI expert advocates learn that some of their clients tried to handle their SSD and SSI issues without expert legal counsel. Specialized SSD and SSI legal experience enable London Eligibility to know more about the rules and regulations of the Social Security Disability system than a novice could ever learn in a few hours of research. Your disability’s impact on your family’s finances, your employment future, and your eligibility for SSD and SSI and other federal and state government benefits are too important to Do-It-Yourself.

And not just any attorney is capable or qualified to represent every SSD or SSI applicant. London Eligibility handles SSD and SSI clients all day, every day, year after year. We do not dabble in SSD law; we specialize in mastering the intricate rules and regulations, the exceptions to those rules.