Working and SSA Benefits

Working and SSA Benefits

The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides benefits to eligible workers who have reached retirement age, as well as those who are disabled. The benefits available to retirees depend on the amount of time they worked and how much they earned over their working years.

Retirement benefits fall into two categories: monthly payments, known as Social Security Retirement Benefits, and a one-time lump sum

When you apply for Social Security benefits, whether it be Disability Income, Supplemental Security Income or Widower’s Benefits, any work you perform for wages after your file your case must be explained at the hearing.

The reason for this is simple: when you apply for disability you are telling the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you are unable to work, so it follows that if you do work at all during the life of your case that you would need to explain that work to the administrative law judge (ALJ).

What is the income threshold to keep benefits?

Whether you are applying for Disability Income, Supplemental Security Income or Widower’s Benefits, it is important to understand the SSA’s limitations when it comes to working and receiving benefits. The SSA has strict rules regarding how much a person can earn from work and still receive benefits.

Generally speaking, if you earn more than $1,220 per month then your disability income payments will be reduced or you may even lose your benefits altogether.

Earnings after you file your Social Security claim can sometimes be easily explained by your attorney at your hearing. If you earn too much, it may defeat your claim for disability. But, if you earn under a certain gross amount which is set by SSA, there are several arguments your attorney can make on your behalf at the hearing.

However, unless you have the proper documentation, your attorney will not be able to assess how to use information regarding any work after you file your claim at the hearing.

Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to provide your attorney with all paycheck stubs with year-to-date information for all work you have performed since you filed your claim prior to your hearing.

There is plenty of information on the web regarding work after your onset date of a Social Security claim; however, some of the rules are volatile and thus it is best to consult an attorney before relying on any information you find on the web regarding SGA amounts or rules regarding work after your onset date.

Number of Credits required for Disability Benefits

To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you must have worked and earned a certain number of credits. The amount of credits you need depends on several factors, such as your age and the date when you become disabled.

Generally speaking, if you are disabled before the age of 24, then you will need to have earned at least 6 credits over a 3-year period ending when you became disabled.

If you are disabled between the ages of 24 and 31, then you will need to have earned at least half of the credits necessary to be eligible for disability, which would be 20 credits over a 10-year period ending when you became disabled.

If you are disabled after you turn 31, then you will need to have earned at least 40 credits in the 10 years before you become disabled.

How Social Security Calculates Your Benefit Amount

Your Social Security benefit amount is based on your average earnings over a certain period of time. The period used to calculate your benefit amount is called the “base period” and it typically covers a 5-year period prior to when you become disabled.

Your benefits may be reduced if you work while you are receiving them. The SSA will look at your earnings in a given year and if they exceed a certain amount, your benefits will be reduced. The amount that you can earn without reducing your benefit payments is called the “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) level.

Social Security and Taxes

The amount of your Social Security benefits that is taxable depends on your total income for the year. If your total income exceeds a certain threshold, then up to 85% of your Social Security benefits may be subject to federal income tax.

Total income includes all of your taxable income, as well as any tax-exempt income and half of your Social Security benefits. To calculate whether your Social Security benefits are taxable, you’ll need to add up all of these amounts and compare them to the IRS threshold.

Need help with SSA benefits? Contact Shook & Stone

Our knowledgeable team can assist you in navigating the process of obtaining monthly benefits and understanding the earning limit guidelines. We can help you determine if you are eligible for benefits, assist with filing your application, and represent you in appeals if necessary. Contact our Nevada social security disability attorneys today for a free consultation!


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