Balancing Work and Social Security Disability: Why It's Challenging
The pursuit of financial stability is a vital aspect of our lives. However, for individuals facing health challenges that hinder their ability to work, the path to financial security can be an arduous one. Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are designed to provide assistance to those who are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity due to a disability. However, navigating the complexities of working a full-time job while applying for SSD can be incredibly challenging. In this blog post, we will explore the reasons why it is often difficult to work a full-time job while also filing for Social Security Disability.
Eligibility Requirements and the Definition of Disability:
To qualify for SSD benefits, individuals must meet the Social Security Administration's (SSA) strict criteria for disability. The SSA considers an individual disabled if they have a severe physical or mental impairment that prevents them from performing substantial gainful activity (SGA). In 2023, the SGA threshold is $1,310 per month for non-blind individuals. Therefore, if you earn more than this amount from working, you may not be eligible for SSD benefits.
The Inability to Engage in Full-Time Work:
One of the primary reasons it is challenging to work a full-time job while filing for SSD is that the disability itself may make it impossible to sustain full-time employment. Disabilities can cause physical limitations, chronic pain, cognitive impairments, or mental health issues that make it difficult to perform consistent work duties for a full workweek. While some individuals may be able to work part-time or with accommodations, others may find it impossible to maintain a consistent schedule due to their disability.
The "Substantial Gainful Activity" Dilemma:
The concept of substantial gainful activity plays a crucial role in the SSD application process. If you earn above the SGA threshold while working, it can be seen as evidence that you are not disabled according to the SSA's definition. This presents a catch-22 situation for individuals who want to continue working but also need SSD benefits to supplement their income due to their disability. Engaging in full-time work may inadvertently jeopardize their eligibility for SSD benefits.
Medical Evidence and the Disability Determination Process:
When filing for SSD, extensive medical evidence is required to support your claim. This evidence includes medical records, doctor's opinions, diagnostic tests, and other relevant documentation that demonstrate the severity and impact of your disability on your ability to work. Balancing a full-time job while simultaneously managing doctor appointments, treatments, and gathering medical evidence can be overwhelming, time-consuming, and add stress to an already challenging situation.
Financial and Administrative Challenges:
Working a full-time job while filing for SSD benefits can create financial and administrative difficulties. SSD benefits are designed to provide financial assistance to individuals with disabilities who are unable to work or have limited earning capacity. However, if you earn above the SGA threshold, your SSD benefits may be reduced or even discontinued, leaving you with an income gap. Additionally, the administrative burdens of working full-time while managing the SSD application process, appeals, and potential hearings can be mentally and physically taxing.
While the desire to work and maintain financial independence is commendable, the realities of balancing a full-time job with filing for Social Security Disability benefits can be extremely challenging. The strict eligibility requirements, the impact of the disability itself on work capacity, the substantial gainful activity dilemma, and the administrative burdens make it a complex endeavor. If you are considering filing for SSD benefits, it is crucial to consult with an experienced disability attorney who can guide you through the process and help you navigate the intricacies involved in balancing work and SSD benefits. Remember, every situation is unique, and it's important to seek professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances.