Roll of hundreds, income

The 2021 income limit for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is $1,310 per month for non-blind claimants or $2,190 for blind claimants. Social Security Administration (SSA) considers anyone who earns more than that limit from work or unofficial jobs to be performing a substantial gainful activity (SGA).

SSA considers individuals with SGA adequately independent to make a living and ineligible to collect disability benefits. A long-term disability claim lawyer can review the case of an SSDI recipient and enlighten him or her on the potential effects of SSDI income limits.

Unearned Income Has No Limits

Unearned income refers to any money that isn’t made from working or engaging in self-employed business activities.  Investments, child support payments, union benefits, and a spouse’s income are examples of unearned income. Although a non-blind applicant or recipient of SSDI cannot make more than $1,310 a month, an SSDI recipient can have any amount of unearned income.

Trial Work Period

Some SSDI recipients who have seen a significant improvement in their disabling condition may hesitate to return to work due to the fear of losing their disability benefits. The SSA offers a trial work period (TWP) to encourage disabled SSDI recipients to try to resume work. During the TWP, the recipient can earn unlimited income without the risk of losing the benefits.

The TWP offers nine months out of a five-year period that allows recipients to try resuming work while still collecting their benefits. The nine months don’t have to be consecutive. Any month that a recipient makes over $940 is deemed a trial work month.

Once an SSDI recipient has completed the trial work period with an average income of over $940, the SSA will begin assessing that person’s work to determine if it exceeds the SGA limit. If it does, the recipient will collect disability benefits for an additional three months, and then the benefits would be stopped.

The benefits won’t be stopped permanently. Instead, the recipient will enter an extended period of eligibility (EPE) that lasts for 36 consecutive months. During the EPE, the SSA determines the eligibility of a recipient to collect a monthly SSDI payment on a monthly basis. If the recipient earns below the SGA amount in a given month, he or she can receive his or her SSDI check. If the recipient earns more than the SGA amount, he or she won’t receive an SSDI payment for that month.