How Much Can I Make and Still Receive Disability Benefits?

Tulsa Attorneys Explain Social Security Income Limits

SSI and SSDI income limits.In some cases, you can continue to work and still receive your monthly benefits from either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) does place limits on how much you can earn each month and still qualify for payments. These limits are different for each program, and apply to only certain types of income in each case.

The rules and exceptions surrounding Social Security income limits are complex. However, the Tulsa Social Security disability attorneys at Troutman & Troutman, P.C. can explain how these restrictions relate to your unique situation. Disability law is all we do, and our legal team always stays up to date with the latest adjustments to income limits and payments. If you have questions about your income, assets or benefits, then we can help.

What are the Social Security Income Limits for SSDI?

SSDI provides monthly benefits to people whose ability to work is limited by a disability. However, this does not mean that you cannot work at all if you receive disability benefits. Instead, the SSA determines your eligibility for these payments based in part on your ability to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA). Income level is one of the ways SGA is measured, although there are other factors. The amount you make from substantial gainful activity is either the actual income you receive or the value of your work, if you are self-employed. If you make more than the income limit for SSDI, you cannot receive disability payments.

The Social Security income limits for SSDI as of 2017 are:

  • $1,170 per month for non-blind beneficiaries.
  • $1,950 per month for blind beneficiaries.

However, these limits do not include every kind of income. Only the amount that you earn by working while you are also receiving disability benefits counts. The SSA does not count your unearned income toward these monthly limits. Unearned or passive income includes payments from investments, retirement funds or trusts, as well as SSI and/or unemployment benefits. If you own intellectual property or real estate, your royalties and collected rent are also types of unearned income.

What are the SSI Income Limits?

The Social Security income limits for SSI are more complicated, since this program is designed to benefit those with low incomes and few assets for any reason, as opposed to those who cannot work due to a disability. First, to qualify for SSI benefits, you must have “few assets.” This means no more than $2,000 in money and property, for an individual. Couples may have $3,000 in assets.

Then, the SSI income limits depend on your countable income only, not your gross monthly income. In determining your countable income, the SSA considers not only your earned income, but also the value of items, food and shelter you receive free. However, the SSA deducts certain amounts from this calculation, including:

  • The first $20 of your total income each month.
  • Of your earned income (from work), the SSA excludes the first $65 plus one half of the rest of your earnings.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (also known as food stamps).
  • Income tax refunds.
  • Small gifts or other amounts received irregularly.
  • Loans that you must repay.
  • Benefits from nonprofit agencies.
  • Grants or scholarships for education.
  • Need-based assistance from the state or local government.
  • Income saved for a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS).
  • For students only, income up to $1,790 per month (Student Earned Income Exclusion).
  • For disabled individuals, value of work expenses related to his or her impairment (Impairment-Related Work Expenses).
  • Money others may use to pay your expenses.

For 2017, the countable SSI income limits are:

  • $735 per month for an individual.
  • $1,103 per month for a couple.

The SSA deducts your countable income from your total SSI payment, which can be up to $735 for an individual and $1,103 for a couple per month. If you make more than the SSI income limits, then you cannot qualify for benefits.

Applying for SSI or SSDI? Call Our Tulsa Social Security Disability Attorneys Now

Determining whether you meet the Social Security income limits for SSDI and/or SSI benefits can be complex. Additionally, the rules and limits change every year. The Social Security disability attorneys at our law firm can help explain these limits and exclusions if you are considering applying for benefits. If you currently receive disability benefit and are thinking of returning to work, then we can explain how much you can make and still qualify for benefits.

Disability law is all we do at Troutman & Troutman, P.C. Call our Tulsa law office or contact us online for a free case review to learn your options for disability benefits.