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Must I stop working before I can apply for Social Security Disability (SSD)?

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Learn when you can apply for Social Security Disability benefits while you are still working and see how work earnings relate to your eligibility.

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Watch the Video: “Must I stop working before I can apply for Social Security Disability (SSD)?”

Work and Applying for Disability

You usually do not have to stop working completely to apply for Social Security Disability, but if you are applying for disability while working and you keep working your usual hours, it is likely you will be denied Social Security disability because your work earnings will be too high for you to be considered disabled. There are exceptions and special rules, but in 2014 most employees earning $1,070.00 or more monthly and most blind workers earning $1,800.00 or more were not considered disabled. If you are self-employed, Social Security also looks at some additional factors. For more information about how work affects your claim when you apply for Social Security disability, please see our articles “What is Disability According to Social Security Laws?” and “Do I Have to Be Completely Incapacitated to Get Social Security Disability?”

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119 Comments

  1. Karen says:

    Hello
    I am 45 years old, I do work 35 hrs a week.

    I am profoundly hearing impaired…I have cochlear implant, but still not enough for me to hear on the phone, or follow regular conversation.

    I have worked in the same place for 23 years.

    I am writing this letter because, because of other issues…Edema, High Blood pressure and (going to the drs to find out) chronic pain.

    I can quit my job, because I would not be able to live…but I because of my health issues, it is harder and harder to perform my job.

    Do you have to be out of work for a year to get disability?
    That doesn’t make sense, if I give up my job and stay home for a year (to which I would not be able to pay my bills).
    I’ve worked since I was 15…I have a hard time walking now, plus my hearing…plus other issues.

    Please help me out here

    Karen

    • Karen says:

      I cannot, quit my job…sorry

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Karen,

      First, if you apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), all your medical conditions will be considered, including limitations caused by your hearing impairment–even though that would not be the primary reason you would be applying.

      Regarding the waiting period for payment, SSD has a five-month unpaid waiting period. For example, if you ceased work in October or dropped your hours so that you were grossing (before taxes and other deductions) less than $1,040 every month and you were approved for SSD benefits, your benefits would begin to accrue for April 2014, which would be paid in May 2014. To be approved, your disability has to be expected to continue for at least twelve months, but payment begins in the sixth month.

      If you have countable assets and income below the SSI limits and you were approved for SSI, your SSI payments would be paid beginning with the month after you applied. Information about SSI income and resource limits can be found under the SSI tab on http://www.disabiltiyadvisor.com

      Sincerely,

      Kay

      • Karen says:

        Hi Kay,

        So how do I live from October to April (actually May) with no job…and not even sure if I’m approved. I am talking I am working I bring home more than $1,000. a month.
        I am struggling to go in everyday, I am in pain…my job is both mental and physical. by the time lunchtime comes, I cannot get off my chair. My joints are frozen.
        But i go to work…and if I quit, I am not even sure…I will be approved?
        I am not mocking you…I am confused.
        Karen

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Karen,

          For people who are not completely incapacitated, the decision to stop work is difficult when you do not have savings to back you up until you get a decision and to cover you during the unpaid waiting period. The only suggestion I have is perhaps your state offers short-term disability payments or other public assistance to disabled persons who are filing for federal disability benefits. If they do, perhaps and other public assistance, such as food stamps could help.

          I wish you the best.

          Kay

  2. Pamela says:

    Hi I have mulitapule health problems and have been out of work for 2 months on a problem with my hands the tendens so I applied for SSD and my hand is not better but the doctor is sending me back to work full time to work while I wait for surgery. I have not gotten my decision from SSD yet how will this effect my case? Workers comp and the doctor both want me to work full time full duty even though I am not better and need surgery. They said they will take me back out when the surgery is ready to be done. Please advise what I should do and how this will effect my case. thank you Pamela

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Pamela,

      To be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) you have to be disabled for twelve months or it has to be expected that you will be disabled for twelve months. (And, the first five months are unpaid.) It might be helpful to discuss with your doctor roughly when your surgery will be scheduled and how long you will be off work after the surgery.

      Sometimes work done during the twelve-month period is treated as an unsuccessful work attempt if you work for a short period of time and stop due to the same medical reasons. This applies only if you have not recovered. Your situation is not clear. Because you doctor is releasing you to return to the same work full time, he or she seems to be saying that you are not disabled, yet the doctor took you off work in the first place. It might be helpful to find out why the doctor believes you can work now when he did not think so two months ago.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  3. Deb says:

    I have been off work since Sept 5th 2013, due to cardiomyopathy with stent placement and 30-35% of heart function. I also have chronic pain due to herniated disk in my neck with all my lumbar spine bulged requiring surgery for which I am not a candidate. My list of problems are:

    Parkinsons
    cardiomyopathy as above
    depression chronic/severe for decades
    chronic pain
    diabetes type 2
    fibromyalgia
    high blood pressure
    degenerative disk disease
    spondolyathisis (spelling)
    shoulder with calcification and bone spurs
    degenerative joint disease
    osteoarthritis

    etc, etc….my fmla leave is up dec 5th of 2013, financially I can’t afford to wait for a decision. If I return to work part time vs the full time I was working will that impact my being approved for ssd?

    Any information would be helpful.

    Deb

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Deb,

      If you work and have monthly gross earnings of $1,040 or more (before taxes and other deductions), you will be performing Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) and you will not be disabled as defined by the Social Security Administration. To receive benefits, you must be disabled or expected to be disabled for twelve months and the first five months are not paid. Accordingly, if you return to work despite your health problems and want to continue pursuing your claim, you will need to reduce your hours enough to be below SGA levels.

      If that is not possible, you might check to see whether your state or county offers any temporary cash assistance for disabled individuals while a Social Security claim is pending. Also, you might be eligible for food stamps and energy (heating) assistance through your local health and human services department.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  4. Danielle says:

    Hi Kay!

    So glad I found your site. My mother is in a very confusing situation right now and we cannot get a straight answer from anyone. She applied for SSDI in July of 2011 (after being denied twice prior to that). Finally, in August of 2013 she had a hearing and the judge approved her to receive SSDI. She still has not received her back pay, and is scheduled to receive her first monthly SSDI check this month, November 2013.

    During that roughly 2 year period (July ’11 – Aug ’13) she was unable to hold down a secure job and didn’t earn anywhere near the $1,040 SGA limit. However, from January – April 2013 she found a job and was earning roughly $1,500 a month (over the SGA limit), but was then let go from the job. She never reported her earnings because she was unaware that she was required to report earnings before actually being approved for disability. Now, she is approved, and is worried her claim will be denied and she will not receive any benefits or back pay. When the judge heard her case, he was aware she had been attempting to work and approved her claim anyways.

    Would that specific job be considered an “unsuccessful work attempt” since she did not have employment that qualified as SGA prior to that? Or would it count towards the trial work period since technically her established onset date was July 31 2011?

    We are both terrified she is going to be denied after such a long battle, and now we cannot seem to get clear answers to what is actually happening. She is going to take all of her earnings information to the social security office as soon as possible because she never had any intention of not reporting it.

    Any advice/clarification would be immensely helpful. I’ve already learned a lot from your site that has been so helpful!

    Sincerely,

    Danielle

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Danielle,

      Based on the dates that you gave me, January through April 2013 would be trial work period months because she worked after being disabled for twelve months. (Unsuccessful work attempts apply only to work before being disabled twelve months.) If she earned over $750 in all four months, then she has used four of her nine trial work period months. The work should not affect her eligibility, but she is right to take proof of her earnings to Social Security so that they can count the work toward her trial work period.

      Best regards,

      Kay

      • Danielle says:

        Kay –

        Thank you so much for the clarification. From the research I did that was the same conclusion I came to, but someone at a local social security office informed her she might loose her benefits, so we both got very concerned.

        Again, thank you for taking the time to respond to my questions!

        Danielle

  5. Kevin says:

    Hello,
    My name is Kevin and my wife became legally blind in 2003 but still working at the local hospital in the kitchen. She had cateract surgery a 1 1/2 ago and now laser to remove a film in her good eye which isn’t that good which is 20/200 or worse and 20 degree side. Her eye is swelling more from the disease and making it harder to see and now she has fibromyalgia . But with our daughter medical bills and hers coming in can she apply for it while working or best for her not to when apply and she has a retirement plan we can cash in but would that go against her.

    Thanks Kevin

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Kevin,

      If your wife is legally blind and working, she can earn up to $1,740 monthly gross wages (increasing to $1,800 in 2014) and still be considered disabled for purposes of Social Security Disability. (Note that these earnings benchmarks are higher for someone who is legally blind than for individuals who are disabled by low vision–not legally blind–or other medical conditions.) If she is working and earning more than that, but feels she cannot continue, one option would be to reduce her work hours so she is working less than the allowable limit.

      If she were to cash in her retirement plan, it would not affect her eligibility for Social Security Disability (SSD), but could have an impact on a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability claim.

      Best regards,

      Kay

  6. Ari says:

    Thank you for clarification on the article. I am deaf. I am planning to apply SSD once I leave my job due to variety reasons. Once I apply SSD in July, am I eligible to work somewhere else but it need to be under $1,040 during 5 months waiting period to receive the SSD benefits on sixth month which it will be January. I am concerning if I work to earn some money during waiting period, will it impact the waiting period/applying for SSD to be delaying or denied?

    Thanks

    • Ari says:

      Also, is they required to ask me why I am leaving from my previous employment?

      • Kay Derochie says:

        Dear Ari,

        One of the standard questions related to jobs you have done in the past is the reason you stopped working in those jobs. You need to reply whatever the reason. If you stopped because of some medical problem, it’s a good idea to explain fully.

        Sincerely,

        Kay

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Art,

      You are right that Social Security Disability has an unpaid five-month waiting period, but there is another time period to keep in mind. To be eligible for Social Security or Supplemental Security Income disability you have to be disabled or be expected to be disabled for a period of twelve months. You can work during those twelve months.

      You do not say how much you plan to work and earn. If you stay under the substantial gainful activity (SGA) earnings level, which is $1,040 in 2013 and $1,070 in 2014, your work may not affect your claim. However, even if you stay under the SGA dollar amount, Social Security could look at your work activity to see if it indicates an ability to work more than you are working and the ability to perform substantial gainful activity. You have to be unable to perform SGA–not just not doing it.

      I hope this informational will be helpful.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

      • Lorrie M. says:

        My problem is I have a good job and insurance but with my condition I can hardly do my job anymore. I get fatigue, nausea, and feet swell. I’ve applied for SSDI but haven’t heard yet. My job is very stressful and I work with people with disabilities and sometimes get grabbed at. I arms are always bruised. The lawyer I hired ask if I planned on going back to work after my medical leave and I told her no, I couldn’t. What do you think I should do. I am in treatment now and confused??

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Lorrie,

          I’m not sure what you are asking when you ask what should you do. Right now, with regard to your claim, you will have to wait for a decision and attend any physical or mental examinations that Social Security may ask you to attend.

          Sincerely,

          Kay

  7. Rick Rogers says:

    I am age 62, work part-time now and currently earn just under $ 1,000 monthly. In the past year (2013) I have been diagnosed with sever kidney failure and have had a fistula installed in my arm in preparation to start kidney dialysis. My doctor says that I will need to start dialysis “sometime” in late 2014.

    If I apply for SSI disibility now, while still working and NOT YET on dialysis………would I likely be approved or turned down? I would assume AFTER I start dialysis, I could easily be approved, but can I be approved already……..my kideys are operating at about 15% at this time, but loosing more function each month now.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Rick,

      You can apply for Social Security Disability now if you believe that you are working to capacity and cannot earn over $1,040 gross ($1,070 in 2014) per month. You will need to decide when your symptoms reached a point that you were limited to part-time work (that is not working part-time by choice) to claim as your disability date. Note that you can apply for and receive Medicare to cover the dialysis even if you don’t meet Social Security’s disability criteria. (This is true only for people undergoing kidney dialysis.)

      Best regards,

      Kay

  8. susan says:

    Are you required to look for work while your disability case is pending? And if so, is this to prove no one will hire you?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Susan,

      Apologies for the late response. Our site has had a software problem that is now resolved.

      No, you are not required to look for work while your disability claim is pending. Your eligibility is based on your medical or mental condition and whether it keeps you from working, not on whether someone will hire you.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  9. Amy says:

    Hi Kay,
    I just applied for SSI. I was collecting unemployment for a couple of years so I had some income. I understand the waiting period can be 120 days or more. While waiting can I look for part time work? If so how many hours of work can you do? I just got on Medical assistant so now I’ve been seeing some doctors. Do I need to tell the doctors that I did apply for SSI, or do I keep that to myself? Do the doctors have any say in the decision?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Amy,

      You definitely should tell your doctors that you have applied for Social Security and SSI disability and that the Social Security Administration may be contacting them for medical information and that you would appreciate their prompt response. Attending physicians’ opinions are strongly considered when your claim is evaluated. Your doctors are not expected to say whether you are disabled, but their description of your symptoms and limitations and their assessment of your credibility in reporting such things as pain and fatigue is important.

      Social Security allows some work; however, if you are able to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA), your claim will be denied. SGA is evaluated in part by your work earnings. Currently, $1,070 gross earnings per month is SGA and an indication that you are not disabled according to Social Security rules.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  10. Terri says:

    Hi,

    I suffer from many conditions. I had a sudden cardic arrest event on Christmas and was saved due to the external defibulator vest. I am currently off work on disablity from work. We have STD and LTD. My ejection fraction is 20-25% and I now have a internal defibultor.

    I also have severe DDD, gout and arthritis in my knees. My body is so much pain most of the time and much of the time I am not able to walk more than 5 minutes. I have diabetes II, CHF.

    Since I am currently on STD and will probably go into the 26 week LTD, will I be able to apply for SSD during this time?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Terri,

      Yes, you can apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) while receiving STD and LTD benefits. I recommend that you do so now.

      If you are approved for Social Security, your LTD will probably be reduced by the amount of your Social Security. You may also have an LTD overpayment to repay with any retroactive Social Security benefits paid for the same months as the LTD. Between the two benefits, you will have either the same or higher income than from LTD alone. There are advantages to having some of your income come from Social Security. First there may be a tax advantage. Second, after twenty-four months of SSD benefits, you will be eligible for Medicare. Additionally, your Social Security Retirement benefit will not be reduced by years of no earnings if you are on record with Social Security as being disabled in those years.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  11. Alison says:

    Hi Kay! I applied for ssdi in August after having to stop working due to battling a rare autoimmune disease called Behcets, fibromyalgia, neurological issues, and a few more. I was denied and now I have an attorney doing the appeal for me. I have been out of work since August 2013 due to my issues, and have been on state disability, however I’m only getting $228 a month from state, which is not livable, especially with 4 kids. From what I am reading on your page, if I can find someone to hire me for like 2 days a week, say $400-$500 a month, would that affect my approval? Also do you have to report it? And would that affect my state disability? Thank you!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Allison,

      I do not know whether your working and earning $400 to $500 would affect your state disability. I suggest checking with your social worker to find out.

      Working part-time and earning the amount you indicate should not affect your Social Security Disability (SSDI) claim. Neither would that amount of part-time earnings keep you from being approved for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability, but it would cause a small reduction in your SSI benefit. For either program, yes, you would have to report your work while your claim is pending.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  12. MAYLI says:

    Hello. My mom has rheumatoid arthritis for over a year now…she’s been in different medications, but its not doing her any good. The pain is horrible and she can’t be standing for long. She’s actually working even though she can’t stand for many hours. My question is, can she apply for SSD? she’s only 58. And can she apply for SSD while she on short term disability? Thanks

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Mayli,

      Your mother can apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) while receiving short-term disability (STD). To successfully apply for SSD, she will have to either stop work or reduce her work hours so that she is grossing $1,070 or less monthly.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  13. Kelly says:

    I worked full time until October of 2007 when I filed a workers comp claim. That never really was resolved nor did I ever get a definite diagnosis of my problem. I totally wiped out my life savings and finally had to go back to work part time in May of 2010. For the past several years I’ve been making less than the $1040 a month and last August I applied for SSD but was denied. I’ve also been seeing a doctor on my own and have bulging discs impinging on my spinal cord at multiple levels in my neck & lower back making it difficult to sit or stand for any length of time. I recently spoke with a local attorney who said that I would not be able to get it because I’m working 16 hours/wk (I make $600-$700) month. He also said that I’m on the edge of not having enough credits either since I haven’t been working full time. Do you agree with this?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Kelly,

      You raise multiple questions. First, if you are grossing at least $600 a month every month, that is $7,200 a year, which is enough to earn. You need only $4,800 earnings in a year to earn the maximum four credits allowable per year, so based on the information you are providing, I’d say the fact that you continue to work part-time is keeping you insured rather than causing you to lose your insured status.

      Your work activity will be evaluated as it relates to Social Security’s definition of disability. The attorney you talked with was probably referring to the requirement that you be unable to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA). The first thing that Social Security looks at when evaluating work for possible SGA is total earnings. Currently $1,070 is the benchmark for SGA and you are well under that. It is possible that the number of hours you are working will be considered, but it might not, especially if you are working for wages and not self-employed. So, if you are working to capacity it would be reasonable to pursue benefits.

      You do not say whether you appealed the 2013 denial. If you did not, you will have to file a new claim and claim a date later than the one you claimed on the last claim. If you are denied again, I recommend filing an appeal with the help of an attorney very knowledgeable in Social Security. If you have not already retained an attorney, you might consider contacting Disability Advisor at 1-888-393-1010 to discuss your case. You do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount your attorney can charge and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from your retroactive award at the time they send your back pay to you. So, it’s all very easy and risk-free.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  14. Tom says:

    During the months that are unpaid, are you allowed to collect disability benefits from a disability ins policy you pay for through work?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Tom,

      Yes, you can receive private or employer short-term or long-term disability insurance during the five-month, unpaid waiting period for Social Security Disability benefits. You can receive the private or employer insurance after Social Security starts also, but your short-term or long-term disability benefit is likely to be reduced by Social Security paid for the same months.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  15. Melissa says:

    Yes, I stopped working in November of 2012 because of severe arthritis in my hands feet and knees. I applied for SSD in September of 2013 because the pain in my knees and feet are so bad that it is hard for me to even walk a few steps. I have since went back to work in January of 2014 and want to know it I need to contact the disability office and inform them of my recent employment. I am working full-time hours even though I have informed my employer that I need to work part-time hours because it is extremely hard for me to stand and walk around on my feet after about four hours at work. I want to know if me working would affect my case.

    Thanks

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Melissa,

      You do need to report your return to work right away. If your condition has not improved significantly since you ceased work originally, it would be wise to make a written statement to that effect along with the return-to-work report. Because you were off work for more than twelve months, there is a possibility that your Social Security Disability (SSD) claim could be approved either fully or partially. A partially favorable approval would find you disabled from November 2012 through December 2013 and you would be paid for a closed period of time (no ongoing benefits). In a full approval, your work starting in January 2014 would be treated as the beginning of a nine-month trial work period during which you would continue to receive Social Security disability benefits.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

      • Melissa says:

        What is a nine-month trial work period and what does it mean for my case?

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Melissa,

          People who have been disabled for more than a year can try to return to work and continue to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits if they have not recovered medically. This attempt work is called a trial work period and is limited to nine months, whether continuous months or not. Any month $770 gross is earned is a trial work period month. This is one of the SSD work-incentive provisions. You can read about other work incentives by reading the return-to-work article under the “Approved” tab of the Disability Advisor website (www.disabilityadvisor.com) or by going to http://WWW.socialsecurity.gov and searching for the Red Book, which describes the incentives. With regard to your second question, I described what a trial work period would mean for your claim in my previous response.

          Best regards,

          Kay

  16. RLM says:

    I applied for SSI after losing yet another job due to my disabilities. I applied and tried to make it through the 2 year process but could not I ran out of reserves. I am the head of the household and my wife has never worked and she has lupus. She should be on SSI also but does not have enough quarters paid in. So I got another job but lost it due to not being able to produce, I am a sale person. I am not working now and finally got a court date in April 2014. I have an attorney but he was unaware of me going back to work. I worked F/T making a monthly salary of $2000 per month for 7 months. I was terminated and received another 2 months severance pay so I m not sure to say 9 months or not. Will this affect my approval and when should I left my attorney know that I worked? I read something about unsuccessful work attempt but not sure if that applies?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear RLM,

      Do let your attorney know as soon as possible that you worked. Give him or her copies of your pay stubs and the dates you actually worked. Also let him know that you received severance pay and the amount and dates it was intended to cover if dates were associated with it.

      You refer to “SSI,” but the information you provide seems to indicate that you mean Social Security Disability (SSDI) and not Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is a disability program for individuals with low family income and countable assets. The comments that follow are based on the assumption that you applied for SSDI.

      If you were off work for more than twelve months prior to returning to work, your seven months of work may be counted toward the nine-month trial work period that Social Security offers as a return- to-work incentive. Benefits are payable during the trial work period. You do not say whether your failure to produce sales was related to your health problems. If it was, it is important to outline for your attorney the problems you were having on the job and how they interfered with you performing your duties.

      Now that you are not working and your savings are apparently depleted, your wife might be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which does not have work earnings requirement. If eligible, her SSI might continue even after your Social Security starts, depending on the amount of your monthly SSDI benefit and whether you are supporting minor children.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  17. Neil says:

    Hi Kay,

    I am 62 years old and work part time in the retail field. I have arthritis of the knees and get regular injections every 6 months for the pain. The last 6 months or so, the results of the injections have diminished substantially. I’ve needed several additional injections just to make it manageable. I’m also on Warfarin for a blood disorder, so that limits the medicines I can take for my arthritis. I earn less than the 1070/month limit. I recently reduced my hours specifically because of the discomfort at the job. What would my chances of getting benefits be at this time, in your opinion. Thank you

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Neil,

      There is a possibility that you could be approved. You definitely have nothing to loose in applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) because you don’t have to stop working or reduce your hours further because you are already earning less than $1,070. If your earnings dropped below $1,070 when you reduced your hours, claim that date as your date of disability.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  18. Pat says:

    I quit my job due to an ill family member, this May will be three years. My plan was to return to work at after my Mom got better however, during that period I have become ill with a severe degenerative illness in my back. Would this gap in employment be a problem with applying/receiving benefits? Someone told me that I could not apply/receive benefits having not been employed for over two years.

    Thank you

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Pat,

      If you are over age thirty-one, you must have twenty work credits in the ten years prior to becoming disabled. A person can earn a maximum of four credits a year. If you were working fairly steadily in the years before the date that you stopped working three years ago, you may still be insured for Social Security Disability.If you are unable to work, I recommend filing an application.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  19. Maria says:

    I want to apply for SSDI online but when I try and come to the question:
    During the last 14 months, has the applicant been unable to work because of illnesses, injuries or conditions that have lasted or are expected to last at least 12 months or can be expected to result in death? I put no since I am still working, it says: You must answer “Yes” to being unable to work due to illness, injuries or other conditions to continue the application, but I am still working. What should I do?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Maria,

      You cannot file a Social Security Disability claim if you are working and earning $1,070 gross per month because that level of work means that you are not disabled as defined by Social Security law.
      If you are working and earning less than that amount, answer the question “yes” and then in the remarks section, declare that you are working and the amount of your gross earnings.

      Best regards,

      Kay

  20. Maria says:

    Also I only make around 680 so I am making less that SGA. Should I put yes?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Hi Maria,

      I didn’t see you second message. Yes, put “yes.” See my response of a minute ago to your first message.

      Kay

  21. Jenny says:

    Hi Kay,
    I have a unique issue. I applied for SSDI last September, I have Bipolar and Segmental Dystonia which affects my neck and right arm, I continued to work full time (I have been there for 3 years), my boss, doctor a social worker and I all decided that it would be beneficial to me to drop to part-time (this puts me under the SGA). My question is does the fact that I continued to work full time (or what I had been able, which wasn’t necessarily full time) from September to now, how will this hurt me. The AZ DDS asked me to report my income to the field office, this was a few days before I dropped hours. The field office has yet to return my call. I am worried that this will cause me significant issues. I have significant accommodations from my employer.
    Thank you,
    Jenny

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jenny,

      Be sure that the field office and the DDS receive

      1. A written statement from you that includes the date that you reduced your hours, the number of hours you now wor and the amount you now earn, and the specific reasons you had to drop to part-time.
      2. A written statement from your employer that lists the accommodations they provide and performance problems or other reasons the employer supported your dropping to part time. Have the employer also include any observations he or she may have about visible symptoms or other visible problems they see you having on the job.
      3. Statements from your doctor and social worker regarding why they supported your dropping to part-time.

      While you are gathering these statements, I would let the field office and the DDS know that you are going to submit these statements.

      Best regards,

      Kay

  22. Amber says:

    I’ve been out of work since April 2011. Due to three separate herniated discs in by lower lumbar/back that cause sever pain down my legs and into my feet, I also get horrible migraines that actually cause me to get ill, and since all this, I’ve fallen into depression issues. I was getting steroid injections into my spine on a pretty regular basis, went to PT, tried acupuncture, back stretching, chiropractors, wasn’t a good candidate for surgery. Was told “. I was on State disability until it ran out. Then I applied for SSD, got denied. I applied again, got denied. Then someone told me to get an attorney, so I did. I’ve been waiting for about a year (since I got the attorney). Since this time, I’ve racked up quite the credit card bills, not to mention I can’t afford medical insurance to get the treatment I needed… Being a mother of two I had no option but to power through the pain and get a part time job, working 20 hrs per week at $12.05hr, but it comes with health benefits which will come out of my paycheck pre-tax. Just days after getting the job. My attorney called to say we finally got a court date in July, 2014. I told them that I got a part time job, because I had not other options. How will all of this affect my disability claim?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Amber,

      It looks as if you are a tiny bit under the substantial gainful activity level of $1,070 per month gross earnings. If you have been under that amount ever since you sent back to work, your work may not affect your claim. If you have been over that amount, then how your work will be treated depends on whether you went back to work before or after April 2012.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

      • Amber says:

        Hi Kay,

        I was out of work from May 2011 until March 2014. I’m only working part time, but I’ve already missed a few days and have had a hard time keeping up with their requirements. It’s a catch 22, because I need to work so I can get health benefits so I can go to the doctors so I can try to get better. However, it’s been extremely difficult on me and my pain is horrible. I’m in pain all the time and I can’t take my meds because I’m driving a car around and working with people. I’m trying to get my disability, but my attorney people want me to pay $750 to go to their doctor to get a second opinion. The only problem is, I don’t have $750 just laying around.

  23. Scott says:

    Dear Kay,

    I have low vision. I see 20/200 corrected with contact lenses and 20/600 without. I am currently employed and net approximately $1600 monthly. I am also 61. What benefits would be available to me? Would I be permitted to receive benefits while still employed (to augment my income) or must I reduce my hours to meet the guidelines? Thank you in advanced.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Scott,

      If you have 20/200 corrected vision in both eyes or a field of vision of less than 20 degrees in your best eye, you would be considered blind by Social Security standards; however, if you are earning more than $1,800 gross wages per month, you are not eligible because you are able to perform substantial gainful activity. You would have to reduce your earnings to below $1,800 gross to be eligible.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  24. Scott says:

    Correction: Thank you in advance.

  25. Deb says:

    Can I apply for social security disability while working? I have stage 4 breast cancer receiving chemo at this time, currently working. Due to my diagnosis, am I able to apply now?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Deb,

      The simple answer is that usually if you are earning more than $1,070 gross monthly, you are not considered disabled; however, individual circumstances don’t always fit the simple answer. If you have been on and off work for treatment or side effects of treatment, some of your work might be considered an unsuccessful work attempt, which could allow you to qualify. If that is your situation, I suggest that you gather your pay stubs and the dates you have been on and off work and make an appointment to talk to a claims representative about possibly filing a claim. You can request an appointment by calling 1-800-772-1213.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  26. James says:

    Hi Ive been out of work since May 17 2013 due to illness. I was approved for STD thru work and then LTD. Last month, I started working PT ie 4 to 8 hrs per week making $320 per month max. Im having some issues with these hours but trying to force myself to move forward. I was just offered another pt job ie 15 hrs per week making $1200 monthly. Im also going to apply for SSDI since it will be 1 yr out of work in May 2014 BUT will making $1520 per month(if I start the 2nd job after my 1 yr out) disqualify me OR be considered a trial period eventhough I didn’t get approved for SSDI? thanks

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear James,

      Work during the first twelve months of disability does not count toward the trial work period. If Social Security finds that you became disabled on May 17, 2013 and you do not return to work until May 18, 2014, your first nine months should be considered a trial work period.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

      • James says:

        I suffer from panic disorder/agoraphobia(restricted but go out within my limits)/ocd/depression and black out during my attacks……I worked for 30 years in corporate America as a sr director making good money….now working 4 to 8hrs per week is a challenge since I have panic attacks. Im trying to work to build up to more hours and heal but now concerned that working these 4 to 8 hrs per week will make it seem like I can work…..is it worth risking SSDI forf $320 per month income from this job? Im trying to do the right thing by attempting to work and get better but at the same time, I would like to get SSDI if that doesn’t happen…very hard decision ie work or don’t work. LTD is only good for 2 yrs for mental disorders. Any ideas on how SSDI looks at mental disorders for disability ie is it harder to get for mental? Im also in my 50s

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear James,

          Gross wages of $320 a month are unlikely to have any impact on your claim. Mental disorders are evaluated the same as physical conditions. To be eligible for social Security Disability, you must be unable to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA), which is defined in part by earnings of $1,040 or more. Given that you are over age fifty, you will be approved if the information submitted for your claim supports limitations that keep you from performing (at SGA leve) the occupations you have performed in the past.

          Sincerely,

          Kay

  27. Brenda Marshall says:

    Dear Kay, I have been out of work for 10 months. I broke my back at work and I am waiting to go before a judge for disability. Now my lawyer wants additional paperwork from my Dr. My lawyer has already gotten paperwork from my dr but said not enough. The problem is I have no money to go to my dr and I owe him alot of money now because I’m fighting workmans comp and they wouldnt pay my dr. My brother has been paying my bills. This is the 3rd time I have broken my back in three different places. The 2 previous times was not work related. Will I still be able to see the judge? My lawyer is not the best at calling me back. I am 58 yrs old.
    Brenda

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Brenda,

      You hired a lawyer for his legal expertise, so it is probably a good idea to follow his advice and get whatever it is that the attorney says is needed. Ask him to write down exactly what additional information is needed from or what evaluation needs to be done by the physician so you can take that information to the appointment. Perhaps your brother can make one more expenditure on your behalf to improve your claim.

      Even if you are not able to see your doctor to get the information the attorney wants, you will still be entitled to go to the hearing. You can explain to your attorney (in a letter if a call isn’t returned) that you can’t get the information because you don’t have the money and ask him to make that clear to the judge.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  28. jen says:

    Dear Kay,
    My husband is considering going on disability, but now with everyone saying it can take five months! I do not know if it will be possible, we will lose everything, yet not sure if it is possible for him to keep working either.

    He got diabetes 25 years ago when he was 12. Now he just went into kidney failure. He has started dialysis 4 months ago. He has tried to keep working. But he is always calling in. He is always sick, tired, swollen. The last time he called in his blood pressure was 213/108.
    Before this happened he worked and I am a stay at home mom. We have six kids. I have thought of going back to work, but I can not count on him to watch the kids. He has fallen asleep while watching the youngest two. He even fell asleep driving the other day. He sleeps through his low blood sugars, Ihad to call an ambulance last month. How can I leave him alone with the kids.
    I just do not know what to do? I am afraid he won’t beable to work enough to support the family, worried we can not go long enough for disablility to kick in, worried to leave him alone with kids. . . worried to leave him alone by himself!
    So where do I go from here?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jen,

      First, if your husband has not already done so, he can apply for Medicare to cover some of the cost of the dialysis. He can do this even if he has insurance through his employer and is still working. When the application is filed, you might ask whether a later disability claim would be processed more quickly than average because he has already been approved for Medicare only.

      Even with a timely processing of his claim, you are correct that the first five full calendar months are not paid. If your husband can no longer work full-time, perhaps his employer would let him cut down to part-time earning less than $1,070 gross per month, which would allow the five-month unpaid waiting period to be served while he was still bringing in some money.

      With or without part-time work income from your husband, you might be able to patch together various kinds of public assistance to get you through should he have to stop work. You could apply for food stamps and Aid to Families with Dependent Children and free school lunches. Some utility companies and social service organizations offer energy assistance to help with heating costs. If the family loses health insurance, it would be a “qualifying event,” which would give you a short window (probably thirty days) to apply for insurance through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) even though the open enrollment period has closed for the year. If the family has little or no income, the government will subsidize the premiums so that you will pay little or even nothing for the premiums. For cash public assistance, you would have to explain why your husband cannot watch the children allowing you to work. Oh, I almost forgot, some states offer temporary disability assistance while a Social Security claim is pending.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  29. Steven says:

    Hi my wife is trying to get disabliity and i wont be able to work much longer i have some weird issue with my nerves joints and a multitude of mental disorders i cant afford to stop working cause of child support what can i do i cant goto jail while waiting on disability

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Steven,

      I suggest that you get some information about from the court that issued the support order support about what happens when your income decreases or stops. Does your responsibility change?

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  30. esperanza says:

    I have been unable to work since may-2013 due to ankle pain due to different issues with my ankle. I did go back to work on a restriction of 5 hours a day I went the first day and my ankle swelled up where I could not return the next day I saw the first dr. and I tried the cam-walker orthodicts injections of cortisone he never said surgery so he wanted a second opinion. So I have been seeing the 2nd dr and he ordered richi brace and continue with cam-walker and orthodicts and the pain is so intense that I cant even be on my feet for long periods of time so I have been on state disability and is ending next month I did apply for ssdi back in jan now my dr said I need surgery to correct my ankle issues first he said recovery would be a year now he says 3 months and now I have no more medical coverage cobra to expensive. So now I don’t know what to expect cause I need surgery but how can I get surgery if I don’t have insurance Obamacare to expensive my husband job does not offer insurance temp. agency so how will that affect my application to ssdi.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Esperanza,

      Not having money for the surgery will not affect your claim for disability benefits.

      It sounds as if you have received new information about your condition after filing your claim. I suggest you get a copy of those newer records and get them to Social Security as fast as you can. Submit a letter saying that you do not know when you will be able to get the recommended surgery for lack of insurance and lack of funds to pay cash.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  31. Donna says:

    Hello I am 44 yrs old and have chronic venous insufficientcy. I have had all the surgeries I can have and have had this for the past 10 yrs. I have long term disability through work and want to know if I can use that while I’m waiting for disability. Also With Disability do you need a secondary insurance plan for medical?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Donna,

      You can receive long-term disability (LTD) insurance while waiting for your Social Security Disability (SSDI) application to be processed. If you are approved for SSDI for months for which you have already received LTD, your insurance company will most likely require that you use some of your SSDI back pay to repay the LTD that was not due. For example, if you received $2,000 LTD and were awarded $1,500 SSDI for the same month, you would need to repay $1,500 of the LTD for that month. After you have received twenty-four months of SSDI benefits, including back-pay months, you will be eligible for Medicare.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  32. lynn says:

    Hi, I am in kidney failure, I am not on dialysis just yet and I am working full time at the moment. I am more and more tired and not feeling very well everyday. I was on ssdi before and went back to work because my kidney was doing well. Now its doing bad and i will need a kidney transplant, its been a little over five years since i started working. Just wondering if i have to fill out all new paper work. Or could they possible pull the information from before ?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Lynn,

      When you cease work, you will have to file a new application. On the application, let them know that you were approved previously, received benefits, improved and went back to work, and are now relapsing. The information will provide needed background. If you are going to be receiving dialysis while you wait for a kidney transplant, you can become eligible for only Medicare to cover the dialysis, even while you are working, by filing a Medicare only application.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  33. steven mullins says:

    I filled for disability in 2011 an was Denise twice it went to apiles judge an denied again lawyer soiled again an haven’t got verdict back was wondering if trying to go back to work to try to catch up on very for behind pills would affect the disition.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Steven,

      I suggest that you discuss your claim and possible work with your attorney. A typographical error makes it unclear to me whether your attorney filed an appeal with the Appeals Council or helped you file a new claim. If you have an appeal pending, a current return to work could be treated as a trial work period and not affect your claim. Of course, there is always the possibility that it could be thought that if you can work now, you could have worked all along, but there is no way to know; it might be fine to try to work. If your work is not “substantial gainful activity,” that is you earn less than $1,070 gross per month, it is less likely work would have any impact on approval than if you earned more.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  34. Crystal says:

    My fmla expires on the 23rd of this month. I’m currently out of work on short term disability. My employer offers a long term disability insurance. Is it better to take the LTD and then apply for SSDI? Or do I have a better chance if I resign from my job for medical reasons and then apply for SSDI? Or perhaps have my employer let me go? If I choose to get the LTD through my work how will I know that I will be approved for it? Also it seems that with the LTD their main goal is to get you back to work which I don’t think I am able to do. I’ve been struggling though work for years only because we didn’t really have a choice financially and the only reason I haven’t been fired yet is because my boss is utterly fantastic and we have a great relationship. Any other job would have fired me years ago due to my absenteeism.

    I’ve continuously missed work over the past 6 years because I was always so sick. In 2011 I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, I also have raynauds, IBS, migraines, vasculitis, erosive esophagitis, Gastroparisis, interstitial cystitis, chronic uti, fibro, two failed knee surgeries, a hysterectomy for endometriosis, Some osteoarthritis, some disc herniations and DDD.

    I’m out on STD right now because I required a fusion of my right sacroiliac joint due to SIJD and sacroilitis. The surgery recovery is three months and then they want me to have my left side fused also. I do not have enough FMLA or STD to get the other surgery right now.

    My husband and I discussed that now may be the right time to apply for SSDI given all my problems but I am scared and the process seems confusing. Also I’m worried that my medical records don’t really document anything about my ability to work even though I’ve discussed how badly these problems affect my ability to make it through work everyday, mostly just symptoms and medications.

    Also I read that you need to get a protective filing date for SSDI and then you have to apply within 6 months of that date, is that correct?

    I apologize for the long winded post but I really would appreciate any advice you could give me that might make this decision easier for me.

    Thank you so much for listening.

    Crystal

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Crystal,

      If you cannot return to work, definitely apply for both long-term disability (LTD) and Social Security Disability (SSDI). Do not terminate your employment because other benefits such as continuation of health insurance may hinge on your being an employee. Of course, at some point your employer may decide to terminate you, but I wouldn’t initiate it yourself.

      LTD policies usually have a less strict definition of disability for the first year or two of benefits than Social Security has. You have already been approved for short-term disability; so if your health has not improved substantially, you have a good chance of being approved for LTD. List all your limiting conditions in your claim, including those you struggled with while working. The insurance company will consider all your conditions, including your upcoming need for another surgery.

      The Social Security Administration (SSA) allows up to six months to complete an application after starting the claim process but does not require you to take that long. I recommend that you start on your Social Security claim as soon as you complete your LTD claim application. If you have been off work a year, then do establish a protective filing date by starting the claim this month to avoid losing potential back benefits and then complete the application as soon as you can after the LTD application has been submitted.

      With regard to documentation how your multiple conditions affect your ability to work, you can make a statement that your employer has accommodated you by not firing you for absenteeism and also for tolerating deficits in work performance, if there were any. If the payroll department has a record of your absences, you could get a statement from them listing the absences if they are really excessive. For your SSDI application, also be sure to list all your medical conditions, when they began, when and where they were treated, and how they limit you individually and together. More information about filing claims can be found under the “Apply for SSD” tab on http://www.disabilityadvisor.com.

      When a person has multiple conditions, sometimes it is helpful to have Social Security attorney assistance even with the initial claim and certainly if you are denied. You can obtain an excellent Social Security attorney by calling Disability Advisor at 1-888-393-1010. You do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount your attorney can charge and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from your retroactive award at the time they send your back pay to you. So, it’s all very easy and risk-free.

      Best regards,

      Kay

  35. Heidi says:

    Hello, I left my job on 1/1/2013 due to bi-polar/depression and I also have Asthma/COPD. I am 46 years old. I received STD and then LTD 7/1/2013 and my LTD carrier said I had to file for SSD, which I did in Oct 2013. It is pending. LTD cut off my benefit on 2/1/2014 on the basis that I was not a full-time (30 hours a week) employee the 3 months prior to me leaving the job (Oct – Dec 2012). Now i have no income. My question is, can I look for part-time work or full-time work under the “Back to work Program”? I’m afraid I can’t work full time, since I have terrible side affects from the medications. ie: severe diarrhea, shortness of breath and can not stand or walk for more than 15 minutes at a time. But I need money to pay my bills. If I work and earn less than $750 do I report this to the SSD or only when it’s over that amount? I know that is 3 questions, but I eagerly await your response.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Heidi,

      You have already been off work for a year, so if you have not recovered from your disability, you will likely be allowed a Social Security trial work period, which is a part of Social Security’s return-to-work incentives. Any month that you earn $770 gross or more would count toward the nine-month trial work period. You should report all work to Social Security, even if it is under $770.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  36. Patricia says:

    Dear Kay,

    I have been on short term disability leave from work for the past 5 months. Due to severe depression and anxiety, I am not sure if I can return to the stress of my job and hostile working environment and scare tactics. My doctor referred me for possible job retraining in another field however, would I qualify for continued SSI, SSD or LTD if I were to be able to handle retraining? I have been paying into a private LTD plan for several years. I am not able to focus on many tasks and not ready to go to school yet. I have no idea how any of this works. I am 46. Thank you so much.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Patricia,

      Most long-term disability policies require you to be disabled only from your own occupation for the first year or two. Disability does have to be from the occupation and not just the employer. In other words, if you could do the same occupation for a different employer that didn’t have a hostile work environment, your LTD claim wouldn’t be approved. Since your doctor is recommending retraining, he must think you cannot do the occupation anywhere.

      Because you are under age fifty, Social Security requires that you be disabled from all occupations for which you are qualified, not just jobs you have done before. If you are disabled by their rules, getting retraining for an occupation would likely not cause your benefits to stop until you were actually retrained and able to do that other occupations. Even then, you might qualify for a nine-month trial work period during which benefits would continue.

      Overall, your best course of action is to apply for both Social Security and LTD. (You likely don’t qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) which has income limits because you are receiving short-term disability (STD). Oh, also request a copy of your complete LTD insurance policy, which should provide information about any return-to-work incentives built into it.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  37. Mady says:

    Hello Kay,
    My doctor just fill out a residual capacity form for my denial (reconsideration).
    on the question number 22. How you expect the patients / disability to change over time?. she answer- one year and on the question number 23. when you expect the patient to be able to return to work?
    she answer- 3-4 month with lifting restrictions. I was diagnose with fibromialgya and a slight disc space narrowing.I’m suffering from neck, spine and back pain. is this going to be a problem to be denied again?
    Thank you , Mady

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Mady,

      There is a problem with the doctor’s statement. First there is an inconsistency within the statement. If the doctor is saying you can’t work now and a change will not occur for a year. If this is true, then logically you would not be able to work in three to four months. If the doctor thinks that you can work in three to four months with lifting restrictions, then she should also list what those restrictions are and correct the one year statement.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  38. Mady says:

    Hello Kay,
    My doctor just fill out a residual capacity form for my denial (reconsideration).
    on the question number 22. How you expect the patients / disability to change over time?. she answer- one year and on the question number 23. when you expect the patient to be able to return to work?
    she answer- 3-4 month with lifting restrictions. I was diagnose with fibromialgya and a slight disc space narrowing.I’m suffering from neck, spine and back pain. is this going to be a problem to be denied again?
    Thank you , Mady

  39. Gary says:

    Hello, I am a profound deaf since birth. I am still working a full time job. I am 49 and single.

    I am wondering if there is possible to qualify SSDI or something the benefits for my deaf from birth. That won’t affect my salary from work.

    I know people from Social Security Administration won’t tell me about this. I need to find out if there is possible to get the benefits on my hard of hearing without any affect to my work.

    Thank you.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Gary,

      If you are earning $1,070 gross or more per month, you are not disabled according to Social Security law. You would have to stop working or reduce your work to below that level before applying. Then Social Security would evaluate whether your hearing disables you.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  40. Melissa says:

    Hi about 5 years ago I was on SSA and SSI I started a part time job because theysaid it was cheaper to live in Ct than in Ca so I had no choice to be able to psy bills.They. said I made to much so they stopped my benefits . My disabilities have started flaring back up plus now I have a herniated disk. Between this and pain meds I have a hard time functioning. My question is since I’ve been on it already will I be able to get it back and will it be easier this time?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Melissa,

      You have to file new SSI applications. Whether or not you have to file a new Social Security Disabilty (SSDI) application depends on timing. If less than five years pass between the last date you were eligible for benefits and when you cease work again or drop your earnings below $1,070 gross per month and apply for reinstatement, you may be eligible for expedited reinstatement. Expedited reinstatement does not require a full new application and provides for temporary benefits while awaiting a medical decision. You can read more about expedited reinstatement at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/redbook/eng/ssdi-and-ssi-employments-supports.htm#7=&a0=9.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  41. Vicky says:

    I am currently receiving income from ssdi and my ltdi company. My ltdi company said I had to file for ssdi within a certain period of time for my benefits to continue. I did because I didn’t know any better. Although I’m getting the same amount of money each month, I will now be responsible for taxes on the ssdi portion. If I didn’t have ssdi, my ltdi benefits would be tax free money. Because of ssdi, only the ltdi portion is tax free. The difference is significant.

    Do all ltdi companies force you to file for ssdi to receive their benefits? Or does it matter what state you live in? I’m in the process of obtaining a copy of my ltdi policy. Am I on the right track?

    Thank you!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Vicky,

      Most long-term disability insurance (LTD) policies do require application for Social Security Disability and reduce the LTD benefit by the Social Security. This should be described in your policy. Depending on your overall income not all of Social Security is taxable and if your income is under a certain level, none of it is. You can find a Social Security tax worksheet at http://www.irs.gov.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  42. Kay says:

    I am bit confused about trial work during receive SSDI. If I earned $900 dollars for next 9 months. What will it happen after that?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Kay,

      The following describes work incentives for Social Security Disability. It does not apply to Supplemental Security Income. A thirty-six month Extended Period of Eligibility follows the nine-month Trial Work Period (the nine months may not be consecutive months). During those thirty-six months, you can receive benefits for each month in which your work is not substantial. (Currently, $1,070 gross wages or net profit in self-employment is considered substantial.) At the end of the thirty-six calendar-month period, your benefits and eligibility terminate in the first month in which your earnings are substantial. The Red Book, which can be found at http://www.ssa.gov describes Social Security’s work incentives in more detail.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  43. Mark says:

    Dear Kay,
    I am just about to the point of no longer being able to work because of pain associated with a spinal fracture earlier in life. I have always worked through the pain by taking many advil during my shift and while not working as well. Over the years the pain has gotten to the point of being intolerable. now advil no longer works and I’ve started getting headaches very frequently. Causing me to take more and more days off work. Yet if I don’t work I will become homeless . I’m lost and feel hopeless with nowhere to turn .I have no insurance to see a doctor but I really need to do something quick.I need help now.my mind is starting to slip with memory loss.and its affecting my ability to do my job. What should I do?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Mark,

      Check with your employer to find out whether you are covered by a short-term or long-term disability policy that would pay you benefits while you are waiting for a Social Security decision. If you don’t have employer-sponsored benefits, check with your state or county’s health and human resources department to find out whether they have temporary cash assistance for disabled individuals who apply for Social Security Disability. Also inquire about any free or low cost clinics where you could get medical care. Lastly, you might inventory your possessions to see if you have anything of value to sell that would cover your living expenses during the five-month unpaid period before Social Security begins to accrue.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  44. I am currently working for the Federal Government and I have been suffering for years with Bipolar Disorder and Degenerative Disk Disease. Lately my bipolar episodes have been getting worse with stress and I have been missing work because I am afraid I will hurt someone. I want to retire but I am only 47 and early retirement I would have to be 57. Last year I took off for a month due to an earlier episode and they said I could have file workers comp but since I had the leave and my shrink wrote them a letter they didn’t have a problem allow me to take the time off. Should I consider filing SSI Disability? I do not want to be fired because of my anger issues due to my mental illness, but I am not sure I can control my outburst.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Laura,

      I suggest that you discuss your condition with your psychiatrist and get his or her opinion about whether to apply. If your control problem would occur in any work environment and there is not something about this particular workplace that is triggering it, then it could be appropriate to apply for Social Security Disability (SSDI). You should also find out whether your government employer has a short-term disability program that would provide income during the first five months of disability that Social Security does not cover.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  45. Jami says:

    Dear Kay
    My mother is only 57 however has multiple medical issues. She only has 33 credits when we attempted to apply for disability for her its states she need 36. She is a widow so she was hoping to receive her deceased husbands ss once she reached 60. She makes less than 1000 a month since her job only allows part time and she has no insurance to see a dr. She lives with me and my family. We saw that she could get her deceased husbands ss at 50 if she was disabled. Is this true and do I need to take her down to ss office to start the process?
    Thank you!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jami,

      I disabled widow can begin to receive benefits at age fifty. The benefit is reduced more than it is reduced at age sixty. Full widow’s benefits begin at full retirement age. The reduction is permanent. If your mother is still working and continues to work, she will have earned enough credits within another year to be insured for disability benefits, assuming that twenty of the credits are from the last ten years.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  46. Ellen says:

    If a woman got hurt and unemployed after the injury… applied for disability then got a full time job making 40,000 a year… several months into the job received a notice of approval of total disability claim… worked for a year then was fired or quit for reasons not related to disability… can she just automatic be fully disabled again? (and brag about being able to quit whenever her boss makes her mad because she makes more money on disability)
    Or is this fraud?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Ellen,

      I don’t know whether the person you are talking about has committed fraud or not; sometimes things look different from the outside than they actually are. Social Security does allow trial work periods under some circumstances during which benefits continue to be paid. If you think that the person is not disabled, you can report your observations to Social Security and let them know that she stopped working for non-disability related reasons. They will then investigate to see if the person is still disabled.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  47. Julie monroe says:

    My husband is on std which will be over next month, his employer sId he is not able to give him his job back when he is able to return to work. Will my husband be able to collect unemployment after the disability runs out?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Julie,

      Your husband needs to check with the unemployment bureau of his state to find out about specific laws, but I would think that if your husband becomes able to return to work and there is no work for him, he could be eligible for unemployment.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  48. erica says:

    Hello kay ! So glad to find this website. okay so heres my problem well, actually two! it’s for my inlaws. My mother in law has been out of work since 97. She has a brain tumor and recently been having heart problems she just had heart surgery this past holiday season. She still has seizures but not as much. She’s never applied for d.i but decided this year to do so, but she went right with a lawyer instead of just applying by herself and seeing the end results. Should she continue with the lawyer or just do it on her own? Next question(s). My father inlaw has worked for the same company since 95. he was terminated in 2012. Was approved for U.I but was turned over to disability he had D.I for 2 years and then cut him off. Should he get a lawyer to fight his case? My fatehr inlaw is 61 and my mother in law is 54 years. Thanks in advance

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Erica,

      There is no reason for your mother-in-law not to continue with an attorney. I am not sure what you mean by “D.I.” but regardless whether you mean Social Security Disability or disability insurance under an employer or private party, if your father-in-law is still disabled, yes, he should get an attorney and appeal. If your father-in-law is not receiving Social Security Disability by the time he reaches age sixty-two, he can apply for reduced Social Security Retirement benefits.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  49. Mark says:

    Hi, I’m 61 with moderate to severe nerve root compression, neuropathy in both legs, moderate to severe hearing loss, and kerotuconus in both eyes, I’ve been off work since December 3rd 2013, at my age sugery is very risky for my back…will ssdi require me to have the sugery in order to be approved…? I filed in January, my onset date is December 3rd, no decision yet.

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