Everyone’s disabling condition is different. In some cases, your disability may allow you to still work some days and not others, or work for part of a day before you have to stop and rest. This leads to a very common question about whether working part-time disqualifies you from applying for and receiving disability benefits.
At the Disability Attorneys of Arizona, we routinely handle Social Security Disability claims and appeals. If you are having problems getting the benefits you deserve or want to know if you qualify for disability payments, please contact us today.
Purpose of Disability Benefits
Social Security disability benefits are designed for individuals who have suffered a mental or physical disability that makes it difficult to earn a living. Offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), benefits are meant to provide financial assistance to help with medical expenses and the cost of everyday life. The government has many strict and complex rules and guidelines for determining who is eligible to receive benefits. As you will see, sometimes the way these rules are applied to disability cases make it hard to demonstrate your disability.
Monthly Income Limit
When it comes to part-time work and disability there are both strict rules and general suggestions. You can work part-time and still qualify for disability benefits. But there is a limit to how much money you can make:
For 2019, if you earn more than $1,220 per month, you are not eligible for disability benefits.
If you make more than this amount, you are disqualified for disability payments. This amount changes every year so it is important to have up to date information. You should also know that, like almost every rule, there are exceptions, for instance, for blind applicants. If you have any questions about this limit or your situation, please contact our office to get the answers you need.
The income limit can prevent you from qualifying for disability benefits. But simply because you make less than this amount, doesn’t mean you will be awarded benefits. At your hearing, the administrative law judge will review all the facts of your disability and work history to determine whether to make an award in your case. If you make less than the amount but work many hours a week, the judge will consider that. In our experience, judges often are skeptical of these types of cases, believing that you can work 30 hours a week, for instance, you can find better employment and, therefore, deny your claim. So just being under the income limit is no guarantee you will win your case.
Finding the Balance
Navigating the disability process is difficult. It can take a long time to get approved for benefits, and in the meantime, you need to pay rent, utilities, transportation, and other expenses. But it can be frustrating to learn that even though you do not feel well and suffering while you are working, you do not qualify for disability. Even worse, you may find out that forcing yourself to work is the reason that you were denied because it looks like you can work and are not disabled.
Rightly or wrongly, if you work more than a few hours a week, and a claims examiner or judge sees that you can perform the work, they may be less likely to believe that your medical condition is so functionally limiting that you are disabled. On appeal, for instance, a judge may think that if you can work a somewhat demanding job part-time, perhaps you can work full time at an easy job. Or a judge may think that you are working part-time only because you can’t find full-time work, not because of a medical condition.
What You Can Do
If you are working part-time, it is very important that you and your employer document the accommodations that they are making for you. It is important to document anytime you are not able to meet the hours they’d like or the difficulties you are having in being able to work. Having this documentation is extremely helpful in presenting the best case possible. As you can imagine, just telling the judge that working is hard for you doesn’t carry as much weight as showing documented proof of your struggles.
Contact Our Disability Attorney If You Are Working Part-Time
Given the tremendous pitfalls that surround almost every aspect of your disability case, from the initial application to the likely subsequent appeal, finding an experienced and aggressive disability attorney to manage your case is essential. Even after you’ve been approved, there are changes in circumstances, such as working a part-time job, that can jeopardize your benefits.
Handling these kinds of cases, with the issues surrounding part-time work, is especially tricky. Often simple technicalities can result in an otherwise winning case being rejected. In other instances, individuals who are disabled but desperate, find themselves unable to convince a judge of the reality of their situation because they forced themselves to work. If you are disabled and applying for disability benefits, you need a reliable and experienced Arizona disability attorneys at Roeschke law. We have the experience and skill to ensure you have the proper medical documentation and get proper advice on how to handle your pressing financial issues in the most advantageous way possible. If you have a disability case, or if you are considering filing for disability benefits, please contact our office and find out how we can help you today.