The first question that the Social Security Administration (the “SSA”) asks when evaluating an application for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits is whether the claimant is working. The SSA typically relies on information obtained from the IRS. If you are working, and the amount you earned is substantial, then your SSD application will be denied.
Under certain circumstances, you can work or receive money, yet still have the right to collect SSD benefits. One way that you can work without it affecting your right to SSD benefits is if the work does not constitute “substantial gainful activity” (“SGA"). Similarly, if your income is not derived from work, then it does not affect your eligibility for SSD benefits either.
I received a fully favorable decision on-the-record today after providing the SSA with information about earnings that my client received after she stopped working. First, the SSA agreed that a portion of the earnings, which came from a part time job, was too low by itself to constitute SGA. Second, the remaining portion of the earnings, which amount was large enough that it could have qualified as SGA, was not deemed SGA since it did not come from work, but rather, reflected money that the claimant received as a member of a class action lawsuit.
There are other situations where you can receive an income, yet still receive SSD benefits. Do not assume that you cannot collect SSD benefits simply because you worked or received money after the date that you claim you became disabled.