As with any government benefit program, there are many myths surrounding social security disability insurance. One of the most common misconceptions is that recipients of disability benefits are not allowed to work. While a high-paying full-time position is out of the question for a disability benefit recipient, working part-time might still be an option.

SSDI Basics

The Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance programs are two of the most well-known Federal programs which provide assistance to people with disabilities in the United States. Both are administered by the Social Security Administration. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) offers benefits to disabled people and certain family members who have worked for a certain period of time and paid Social Security taxes.

In order to qualify for SSDI benefits in Illinois, one must demonstrate that they have one or more physical or mental conditions that keep them from being able to engage in a work activity that earns a substantial and gainful income, for at least a year.

Substantial Gainful Activity

For those who are working part-time and not earning much money, working is considered acceptable when receiving SSDI. Those who can perform what is known as substantial gainful activity (SGA) are not eligible for SSDI. For the purposes of SSDI, SGA is work that brings in over $1,170 for non-blind disabled recipients and $1,950 for blind recipients each month (gross). Income from non-work services, like gifts, interest and investments are not included in this calculation.

Just because a person earns a low wage and is disabled, does not mean that they are automatically eligible for SSDI. Though hobbies or school attendance is not considered SGA, certain volunteer activities could be, if they represent substantial work which someone would normally get paid for.

Another prevalent myth is that one cannot work while pursuing an SSDI claim. In truth, a disabled person may work after they have applied for benefits, as long as earnings do not exceed the maximum threshold for SGA.

Due to the complexity of the Federal benefits system, working with a disability attorney can help disabled people in Chicago navigate their options. Even those who have been denied for SSDI benefits may still be eligible, and can request an appeal. An Illinois lawyer can help recipients, and potential recipients determine what their employment opportunities may be.