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Do I have to be completely incapacitated to get Social Security Disability?

By / Facts / 139 Comments

Learn how you don’t have to be completely incapacitated to get Social Security disability and how you can to work for pay even while receiving benefits.

Complete Incapacity Not Required for Disability
Contrary to word often heard on the street, you do not have to be completely incapacitated to get Social Security Disability benefits. Many people getting Social Security Disability payments are able to take care of some of their home and their personal needs and are able engage in some enjoyable activities.

Working While Disabled
Some people whom Social Security has found to be disabled are even able to do a bit of volunteer work or part-time paid work. What is key to an approval for benefits is the inability to perform what Social Security calls “substantial gainful activity.” You may not be able to earn $1,180 monthly, which is generally considered substantial, but you may be able to work a handful of hours a week. Similarly, if you are blind, you may not be able to earn $1,970 monthly, which is generally considered substantial gainful activity for blind individuals, even though you can earn some money.

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Social Security Work Incentive Programs
If you are already receiving benefits and you are thinking about working, Social Security has many work incentive programs, some of which allow you to get Social Security Disability benefits and Medicare for some months in which you are performing substantial work. For more information on Social Security’s disability requirements, including an explanation of “substantial gainful activity” please visit our article What is Disability According to Social Security Disability Law?  For information about Social Security’s work incentive programs, please see Can I Keep Getting Benefits When I Am Working on Social Security Disability?

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Do I have to be completely incapacitated to get Social Security Disability?
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