Posted on 31 July 2009
By Mark Miller
Q: My Social Security disability monthly check is $864 and my mobile home space rent is $704 not including any utilities.I share the household with my girlfriend who earns about $45,000 but she has a daily 80-mile commute so the transportation costs to get her there are a real negative regarding gas and car repairs and maintenance. Can you tell me if I am able to earn extra income without jeopardizing my disability benefits? I need more income on my end because we can’t meet our expenses.–J.M., via the Internet
A: Yes, you can work and still receive Social Security disability benefits. There are special rules called “work incentives” that can help you keep your cash benefits and Medicare while testing your ability to work.
There is a trial work period that allows a person to test his/her ability to work for at least nine months. During the trial work period, you will receive full Social Security disability benefits regardless of the amount of earnings.
Following that is an extended period of eligibility which lasts for 36 months. During this period, you usually can make no more than $980 a month or benefits will stop. Work expenses you incur as a result of disability are deducted when Social Security counts earnings to see if that can help you keep more of your benefits. If you have extra work expenses, earnings could be substantially higher than $980 before benefits are affected. This substantial earnings amount usually increases each year.
The Social Security Administration offers a free booklet with more information on this topic, called Working While Disabled – How We Can Help.