How Much Can I Earn on Social Security Disability in 2021?

How Much Can I Earn on Social Security Disability in 2021?

Before you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, one of the many considerations you’ll need to make is whether disability benefits alone will provide you with enough financial support. The maximum disability benefit amount you can receive each month (as of 2021) is $3,148. However, the average beneficiary will receive somewhere closer to $1,277 per month.

disability income limits

Of course, qualifying for SSDI benefits is contingent upon proving that you have a disabling condition which prevents you from making substantial income. But just because you are receiving disability benefits doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to generate any income. Read on to find out about 2021 SSDI income limits and how to maximize your monthly earnings and benefits.

Disability Income Limits in 2021

It is possible to both receive disability benefits and earn income at the same time, provided that you earn under a certain amount and conform to other Social Security Administration (SSA) requirements. As of 2021, the maximum amount of money an individual can earn while receiving SSDI benefits is $1,310 for non-blind disabled workers. (Disabled workers who are blind are subject to SSDI income limits of $2,190 per month.)

If you don’t have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI but are still disabled and low income, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) instead. SSI income limits are based on the federal benefit rate (FBR), which is currently $794 per month for individuals or $1,191 for couples. Earned income exclusions may make it easier for you to qualify for SSI.

Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)

Anything beyond the disability income limit is considered to be Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). Disabled workers who engage in SGA are at risk of losing their benefits, so it’s important to keep track of how much you’re earning if you plan to work while on disability or during the application process. You also should know about your other options for earning income and drawing disability or transitioning back into the workforce via the Ticket to Work program.

Trial Work Periods

If you’re receiving benefits but decide you want to test your ability to work, you can enroll in what’s called a trial work period. During this nine-month period, you are allowed to earn as much as you can and still receive monthly payments. As of 2021, any monthly earnings over $940 per month will automatically trigger a trial work period. The nine months of work you engage in may be consecutive or may add up to nine months of work within a 60-month period. 

SSDI income limits 2021

As long as you do not work more than nine months in this time while earning over $940 per month and you remain medically disabled, you can still collect full benefits during the trial work period. However, keep in mind that your overall monthly earnings will be evaluated by the SSA at the end of your trial work period and could lead to a termination of benefits if you’re determined to be capable of engaging in SGA—that is, if you’re consistently earning more than $1,310 per month. 

Extended Period of Eligibility

If you earn more than $940 per month during your nine-month trial work period but less than $1,310, you can qualify for an extended period of eligibility after your trial work period. This extension lasts for an additional 36 months. You’ll remain eligible to receive SSDI benefits every month, but you will not receive a payment for any month in which you earn more than 2021 SSDI income limits (i.e., more than $1,310 per month). 

If, after your 36-month extended period of eligibility, you continue to earn more than $1,310 in one month, your SSDI benefits will lapse. The good news is that, even if you do end up losing your benefits after an extended period of eligibility, you’ll be able to get approved for benefits much more quickly if you’re unable to work again in the next five years. With Expedited Reinstatement (EXR) of benefits, your condition will be reviewed again, but you’ll start receiving monthly payments immediately in the interim.

How to Make Sure You Don’t Lose Your SSDI Benefits

If you’re thinking about applying for disability but are still employed, or if you’ve been receiving benefits but are considering part-time work to help make ends meet, it’s crucial that you get all the facts before making any decisions that could put your disability benefits in jeopardy. 

To get help with applying for Social Security programs, appealing a decision, or just to talk about all your legal options, consider contacting an experienced Social Security disability lawyer at Social Security Disability Advocates USA. 

Our friendly legal team will schedule a free consultation to review your case and help you understand the possible impacts of SSDI income limits. Call us today at 602-952-3200, chat with us via LiveChat, or send us a message using our secure contact form

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