This blog article will address how part-time work is generally defined and if an applicant is allowed to do so while filing for Social Security Disability.
First off, the term “part-time” can mean a lot of different things. Social Security uses more of an earnings-based definition for they typical W2’d employee. When it comes to the allowable limit of earnings per month Social Security defines the limit and calls it “Substantial Gainful Activity.” Generally speaking, when there is a pending claim for Social Security Disability and the Claimant decides to work, they are limited from earning anything more than the monthly Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) amount. For the year 2019 that amount is $1220 per month, gross. To clarify, this is not a take home amount or amount after any deductions be they taxes/medical/voluntary/judgments/etc. For example, if a person is making $10 per hour and works 10 hours in a week their gross earnings for that week are $100. If they get a bonus of $50 that week as well, that will put their gross earnings at $150 for the week. That is what Social Security will count earnings as.
There are a couple of exceptions to the rule above. One, if a person is blind and that is the reason they are applying for disability the SSA allows them to earn more. For 2019 that SGA amount is $2040 gross earnings per month. This applicant needs to be careful, though, as the blindness rules are fairly strict. If the Claimant is not found blind by the SSA at any point in their claim and they earned at a level greater than $1220 per month, they will be likely to have eliminated the possibility of a claim based on other impairments for that application/time frame.
The other exception is self-employed individuals. Self-employed individuals allowance for earnings while a case is pending is a different topic. While the SGA amount of $1220 per month may come into play for some self-employed claimants, they also will compare what you made prior to filing for disability versus what that person is making while their claim is pending. This topic will be addressed in a later blog article.