Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides those who need it with a monetary benefit. If a medical condition is preventing you from working, you can get SSDI benefits as long as your medical condition is bad enough, you have worked enough, and you stay under the income limits. Read on to learn more about income limits and how much of that income so that you can make an informed decision.
It's a myth that you must just stay home and get paid if you are disabled. You can work, and the SSA even offers a number of programs meant to encourage doing so. There are, however, some limits on what you can do and what you can earn.
As of 2018, you can earn up to $1,180 a month and still get your usual monthly payment. There is also a special work program that allows you to earn an unlimited amount of money for a limited number of months (The Trial Work Period). Additionally, you cannot do certain types of work and still get benefits.
When you qualify for SSDI, it will be on the basis that you are unable to do certain types of work. For example, if you use a keyboard and have a hand disability, you might be approved for benefits based on some specific job tasks. If you get another job after being approved and it involves doing some of the same tasks that you stated you were unable to do previously, you may find your benefits suspended. Even if you stay under the income limit, if your job involves using your hands extensively it may be disallowed.
Lowering Your Income Using IRWE
There are some expenses associated with being disabled that can be deducted from your income, thus allowing you to earn above the limit. As long you are working at an approved job, certain items will reduce your income even if you also use them when not at work. These items are known as impairment-related work expense (IRWE), and you can use the purchase of them to reduce your income as long as:
1. You must use the service or item to attend work
2. You must use the service or item due to your disability
3. You are paying for the cost of the item yourself and not being reimbursed through Medicaid, Medicare, or private insurance
4. The item has a reasonable cost (not above the local average)
Some examples of IRWE:
Some examples of IRWE are:
1. Modifications to vehicles to allow driving or riding, such as hand pedals and chairlifts
2. Private transportation costs
3. Payment to a personal care attendant who helps ready you for work
4. Durable medical goods like wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, braces, etc.
5. Home modifications that allow access in and out, like ramps and railings.
Being approved for benefits can be a challenge, so speak to a social security disability lawyer for help in getting your benefits approved on appeal if you are turned down.