How to Avoid Working Over the SSA Limit

Did you know that you can work and still get Social Security Disability benefits? If you are receiving disability from Social Security, there are special rules that allow you to continue to work or start working while still acquiring monthly payments.

However, SSA implements some restrictions on what kind of benefits you will receive depending on several variables, including how many hours you work and which type of benefits you are receiving – either Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The following guidelines provide information on receiving benefits while working.

Social Security Disability Benefits

SSA’s Ticket To Work Program may help you if you’d prefer to continue working while receiving benefits by providing free vocational rehabilitation, training, job referrals, and other employment support. You may go on a trial work period for nine months, which will permit you to test your ability to work for this amount of time. You will continue to receive benefits regardless of how many hours you work or your income.

Following this trial period, you will have an extended period of eligibility for 36 months. During this time, you may still work and receive benefits as long as your earnings for any given month are not considered “substantial” by SSA guidelines. In 2016, SSA considers earnings over $1,130 ($1,820 if you’re blind) to be substantial.

Additionally, if you have extra work expenses such as transportation or cost of other services, SSA may be able to deduct them from your monthly earnings.

To avoid exceeding the SSA limit, you must meet these requirements and report all earnings, as well as any changes to your duties, pay, hours, newly incurred expenses and whether you start or stop work.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

If you are over 65, blind or disabled, and have little income and limited resources, you may be eligible for SSI benefits. If you continue to work despite being disabled and are receiving benefits, you may be able to keep getting payments until your earnings exceed the SSI limit, which is different in every state.

If you are under the age of 22, go to school, or regularly attend training programs, SSA won’t count earnings of up to $1,780 (maximum of $7,180 for 2016) a month.

Similarly to Social Security Disability, SSI also implements a work incentive program called a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS). The goal of this program is to help you reduce dependence on government benefits, and any money used to achieve this goal will not count towards determining how your income affects your benefits.

SSA bases SSI payments on how much other income you have. If your only income is SSI and the money you make from your job, the first $85 of your monthly earnings will not be counted.


You must record and report every factor of your work schedule, duties, earnings, and expenses to avoid working past the SSA limit. Reporting this information will be helpful in comprehending your needs and whether you are staying within SSA parameters.

For more information on SSA work incentive programs, provides useful guidelines on what to expect and how to enroll.

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