In most cases, you can qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) even if you are collecting benefits from another source. There are a few exceptions to this rule, however. The type of benefits you receive will determine if there is any reduction in the amount of your monthly SSDI payment.
Can I collect other benefits in addition to SSDI payments?
There is no regulation that bars you from collecting pension benefits in addition to SSDI. There is a substantial gainful activity limit, but this limit considers only earned income, so most benefits you receive from private retirement, pension, or other sources will not count against you.
In addition to drawing benefits from a private pension, you can also collect money from stocks or other investments, rental property, or selling assets without penalty. The income of your spouse or others living in your household is also irrelevant when the SSA determines your qualifications and calculates your monthly payment.
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What is the exception to this rule?
The exception to this is rare and usually only occurs if your other source of benefits is also a government agency. If you receive regular payments based on work that did not take out money for Social Security taxes, you must count this income. This happens most frequently with government retirees, although it can happen because of workers’ compensation plans and similar programs. We can advise you if this is a situation you may face when we evaluate your financial history to determine if you qualify for SSDI benefits.
Do I qualify for SSDI?
Even though you are probably not disqualified for SSDI benefits based on your additional unearned income, you still need to meet strict criteria to qualify and collect these benefits. We can help you understand your work credits, income limits, and impairments. We can also help you file your claim if you qualify.
SSDI requires a certain number of work credits based on your age and work experience. If you held a job and earned at least the amount needed to qualify for four quarters of coverage each year over the last five years, you most likely meet the work credits obligation. The required amount for 2017 was $5,200. The number of credits you need varies by age. Younger applicants need fewer credits to qualify. We can determine how many work credits you have and how many are necessary to receive SSDI payments.
There is a limit to how much you can earn per month in a job. This earned income must remain below the substantial gainful activity limit to qualify for SSDI. The SSA adjusts this limit each year.
The 2017 substantial gainful activity limit is $1,170 per month. This includes only job-related income and any income earned from being self-employed. There are also some additional requirements when you are self-employed. The goal of this limit is to ensure applicants truly cannot earn a living wage because of their disability, not to place a limit on how much overall income you have coming in.
The most difficult test to qualify for SSDI is to identify a well-documented disability that prevents you from working and also meets the SSA’s rules.
The SSA publishes strict criteria in its impairment listings, outlining dozens of medical conditions that could cause a person to be unable to work. In addition, they only approve applicants whose medical records, treatment notes, laboratory and clinical results, and imaging scans show that the disability results in a very limited residual functional capacity. Usually this means they are unable to return to their previous job, work any job they have the qualifications for, or work a job that only requires unskilled tasks.
The SSA requires a high level of documentation to approve your condition as a qualifying impairment. We can help you understand if your medical condition meets the SSA’s qualification criteria.
How can I talk to a disability lawyer from Berger and Green?
The knowledgeable attorneys at Berger and Green can help you understand the qualifications for SSDI benefits and how your other income may affect your approval. Call us today at 412-661-1400 to discuss your claim.