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Disability Attorney Forrest Jackson

How Much Money Can I Make on Disability?


If you are receiving federal disability benefits through either the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs, you are allowed to work without a reduction in your benefits under certain circumstances and conditions.

One of the standards that the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses for determining whether you can receive disability benefits is whether you are considered to be capable of engaging in what is known as Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). It is based on your ability to earn over $1470 per month in 2023. If you earn over this amount, you are considered capable of earning over this amount, you can not receive SSDI benefits. For individuals who are blind, the limit is $2460.

Any income, even if under the program limits, must be reported to the SSA. You will need to provide stop and start dates, the number of hours you are working, and your income. If any of these change you would also need to report that to the SSA.

For SSDI recipients, your income is restricted only for earned income, or money earned from working. The following forms of income are allowed in any amount for people receiving SSDI:

  • investment income and dividends

  • pensions and retirement income

  • support from family or friends

  • money from an inheritance

Since SSI is a needs based program, SSI recipients are limited in all forms of income and also can't possess assets totalling more than $2,000 with and $3,000 for a couple with exceptions for a primary residence and a car. The monthly payments for SSI recipients is $914 per month and $1371 for an eligible couple in 2023. SSI recipients who work can have their monthly payments reduced according to the countable income received. The countable income is the total income a recipient may receive minus certain deductions.

Some exceptions to SSI income are:

  • income tax refunds

  • home heating and energy assistance

  • low miscellaneous, sporadic income

  • money spent by others to pay expenses like phone bills or medical bills (excludes food and shelter)

  • disaster assistance

SSDI recipients who earn over the $1470 limit are in danger of having benefits cut off. SSI recipients can lose their benefits if their countable income rises above the amount of their monthly payments.

The SSA does however offer work incentive programs for SSDI and SSI recipients to try to see if they can return to work without being penalized or losing benefits. These programs also allow recipients who try to return to work to retain their medical benefits for a period of time.

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