Can I Return to Work While Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits?

Nov 16, 2018
By Peter Friedmann

Yes, you can return to work while continuing to receive long-term disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. In fact, the federal government enforces the Americans with Disability Act and offers programs under the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act to increase employment opportunities for people who have physical and health limitations to join or stay in the labor force. 

The second law makes grants and assistance available to employers to incentivize employers to employ workers with disabilities. Such employers can receive tax relief and plans for changing workspaces or altering job descriptions to accommodate those disabled workers. At the same time, the Ticket to Work law ensures that a disabled worker who gets hired will continue receiving full federal benefits for the duration of a trial period during which the worker learns whether he or she can fulfill the duties of the job he or she was hired to do.

The Social Security Disability Insurance program does, however, make a distinction between individuals who qualify for ongoing benefits and those who earn enough from their jobs to no longer need financial assistance. During 2018, the cutoff for SSDI benefits was generally $1,180 in monthly income from full-time or part-time work. This means that an individual on SSDI could work and earn up to $1,180 per month and still qualify for SSDI benefits.  Blind individuals could make up to $1,970 each month before being deemed no longer eligible for disability benefits. When SSDI recipients do work for wages or a salary, their disability benefit payments are reduced as their monthly incomes rise.

Further, some people who get approved to receive SSDI benefits will be asked to periodically certify that they remain substantially disabled and in need of benefits. The exact criteria for being classified as disabled varies depending on the physical or mental condition that affects an individual, but each SSDI recipient must submit extensive medical evidence to prove the existence of and the limiting effects of their condition.

As disability discrimination attorneys in Columbus, Ohio, we know that many people who want to work cannot find or hold onto jobs because employers worry about their ability to complete assignments or perform the essential functions of the position. Some business owners also fear that making even small accommodations like extending breaks or modifying equipment will cost them too much money or impede production. When a company or agency refuses to even consider disabled applicants for job openings, or when they fire existing employees who become disabled, the affected individuals may have grounds for filing employment discrimination lawsuits.

Employers who have concerns about treating people with disabilities fairly and equitably should consult with a Columbus disability discrimination attorney to learn what employment laws require. Employers can also gain insights into how to apply and qualify for federal and state programs that support practices and policies aimed at getting and keeping disabled Ohioans employed.

At The Friedmann Firm, we strive to eliminate the misunderstandings and discriminatory practices that keep people with disabilities from working. We offer consultations to individuals and employers, and we are always prepared to fight for the rights of employees and job applicants. You can schedule an appointment with a Columbus discrimination attorney by calling 614.610.9755 or filling out this online contact form.