Many of my Social Security disability clients express their desire to return to work while they are waiting for their hearing. This is understandable because hearing wait times can be very long, with many claimants forced to wait two years or more. Some clients want to work part-time out of dire financial need. Others feel a strong desire to get out of the house and re-discover a sense of purpose.

It’s not easy to know what to do—and I certain empathize with my clients’ reasons for wanting to return to work. But I always caution them: Such a decision can be perilous to a disability claim.

Why is this?
First, if you get a new job and earn more than $1,130 a month, you are engaging in what is known as “Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)”. If you earn more than the allotted SGA amount in any nine months of a 60-month period, this automatically disqualifies you from receiving Social Security Disability benefits.

For claimants who earns less than $1,130, the decision to get a job still can jeopardize the claim. In fact, if a judge has reason to believe that a claimant could be earning more than the SGA amount but is intentionally working less they can, and often will, use that as a basis for denying the claim. So is important to be careful and make informed decisions about employment.

All in all, the decision to return to work is a difficult one and varies from client to client. When clients come to me for guidance, they are confused and unsure how to move forward. I help them understand all that is at risk and all that they have to gain in the decision of whether or not to return to work. It is my job—and the job of my colleagues at Oxner + Permar—to help you feel knowledgeable and confident about all of the steps involved in your Social Security disability claim.