Social security disability claim contract

Can You Work While Your Social Security Claim is Pending?

Working While Your Social Security Disability Claim is Pending

You may have questions as a Claimant for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) or Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits if you are considering working part-time during the long wait for your hearing.

With a free consultation, an attorney at Pyfer, Reese, Straub, Gray & Farhat, P.C. is available to assist you with determining how your work activity will impact your Social Security Disability benefits claim.

Will working part-time make my claim more difficult? 

Every case is different, but any work activity that you have had in the past 15 years, as well as current work activity, should be discussed both before and during the Social Security Disability application and appeal processes. Working a part-time job will not necessarily impede your case, but it could prove more difficult for satisfying SSA’s rules for disability. Working part-time could also be helpful to showing how limited you are due to your medical conditions. Generally, part-time work under the Substantial Gainful Activity level is a neutral factor in your case.

How much can I earn per month? 

During the pendency of your claim, it is best to be mindful of your monthly earnings and work activity. If you are going to work or continue to work, keep your income below what is called the “substantial gainful activity” (“SGA”) amount, which for 2023 is $1,470 per month and for 2024 is $1,550 per month (this amount changes each year). The SGA amount is a clear cut-off point for SSA when reviewing your disability claim. This means that if you were earning more than the SGA amount when you applied for  benefits, even $1 more, SSA would deny your claim without even looking at how disabled you are. For this reason, the least amount of income that you can earn per month (or not working at all, if that is an option in your case) as far under the SGA limit as possible will be beneficial in the processing of your claim. Reviewing whether you are engaging in SGA is one of the initial steps to the SSA disability process.

When I am trying to keep my income below the substantial gainful activity (“SGA”) monthly amount, is it gross income or take-home net pay that counts? What are the rules for working at less than the SGA level?

Gross income. Your income is averaged. The SGA monthly income rules are relatively strict, but do allow for deductions and exemptions for certain types of pay. You get to subtract sick pay, vacation pay, and what SSA calls “impairment-related work expenses” (“IRWE”). IRWE are the amount of out-of-pocket payments you make in order to treat your disabling impairment(s) and continue working, but there may be some other work expenses that can be deducted, too. These deductions can be used to reduce your income below the SGA level. It is best practice to use the SGA amount as your guideline and make sure your average monthly earnings do not exceed this amount.

Is it possible to work part-time at my own business?

It is possible, but you must be mindful of the hours you are putting into your own business each month. SSA’s rules allow it to find that a person who is working part-time in his or her own business and actually losing money is also engaging in SGA. A claim can be denied on this basis alone.

Does working part-time change how we handle the appeal to an ALJ Hearing? 

We will need your pay stubs and W-2 forms (so be sure to save them for submission at every level in your case) to present as an exhibit to the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) in charge of your case. Detailed testimony will be taken about your work activity.

If you need assistance in your social security disability insurance or supplemental security income case, please do not hesitate to reach out to an attorney at Pyfer, Reese, Straub, Gray & Farhat, P.C. for a free consultation. Several members of our team, including Lancaster and Ephrata social security law attorneys, Megan H. Herr and Gabriella Hashem Farhat, whom are knowledgeable in assessing which type of benefit(s) best applies to your case. Should we deem your case eligible, we will fight to gain benefits for you.


This article is meant to provide general information only and is in no way legal advice. For specific legal advice regarding your situation, book a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

Posted in News on by Pyfer Reese.