Is It Possible to Qualify for Disability If I Was Paid Under the Table?
Getting paid under the table can jeopardize your ability to draw disability benefits. This primarily applies to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a program that bridges the gap between the time you suffer a disabling impairment and the time you reach full retirement age. This program requires you to meet certain work history requirements based on your age. You cannot meet these requirements unless you pay taxes on your income.
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Was I Paid “Under The Table”?
In general, receiving payment under the table means your employer is not reporting the money they pay you to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). They are likely paying you in cash and are not taking taxes out of your check. You can sometimes spot these employers because they do not ask you to complete required tax forms, such as a W-4 or I-9.
Some jobs are much more likely to pay under the table than others, but it can occur in almost any industry. Manual labor, childcare, handyman jobs, and housekeeping jobs are often paid in cash without reporting to the IRS. Some jobs also pay part of your income under the table, which occurs frequently when a large portion of your income comes from tips.
Why Does This Disqualify Me for SSDI Benefits?
SSDI requires you earn a certain number of work credits to be eligible for benefits. You earn these credits by paying Social Security (FICA) taxes on the income you earn. If your employer pays you legally and takes out payroll taxes, you will likely earn up to four work credits each year. Generally speaking, you need 40 credits—20 of which you earned in the last decade—to qualify for the SSDI program.
If your employer pays you in full or in part under the table, however, you may not pay in enough taxes to earn the required number of work credits. This is why it is important to report all your income to the IRS and pay these taxes.
When Might I Be Eligible for SSDI Despite This?
In some cases, employees who receive their pay under the table claim it as self-employment or miscellaneous income on their tax returns. When this occurs, they pay Social Security taxes on it and earn work credits toward SSDI and Social Security retirement benefits.
If you have been reporting cash payments or cash tips on your taxes and paying FICA taxes, you are most likely earning work credits and may be eligible. You may also qualify if you receive part of your income via check, even if it is only a small part. For 2017, you only need to pay taxes on $5,200 to earn the maximum number of work credits.
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Can I Work Under The Table While Drawing SSDI?
Some people may try to work under the table while also drawing SSDI benefits. This is not a good idea, as it could constitute fraud if discovered. If you can work and need the additional income, you should consider getting a job that pays legally.
You may be able to return to work after receiving approval for benefits. If you follow guidelines from the Social Security Administration (SSA), you can continue to earn additional income without worrying about serious consequences.
If SSA discovers you working under the table while drawing benefits, you may have to pay them back for the months you worked, in addition to penalties. You could also lose the ability to draw disability benefits in the future, depending on the situation. You could also be charged and convicted of a crime.
How Can I Learn More About My SSDI Eligibility?
If you cannot work and need help making ends meet, disability benefits are often one of the best ways to get the money you need. However, if you did not work regularly or are not sure you earned enough work credits to meet the program’s qualifications, you may be hesitant to apply. The knowledgeable attorneys at Berger and Green can help you understand your eligibility and help you apply for any programs for which you qualify. Call our office today at 412-661-1400 to schedule your free consultation.