Can You Work While Receiving Benefits?
In the world of state-issued benefits, this is a pretty sensitive question. Still, it’s something recuperating employees (like yourself maybe) would like to know. After all, just because you’re sick or injured doesn’t mean you’re completely incapacitated. You can still make something of your time. And if that means earning a little cash on the side, then why not right?
Still, full-time work is just not an option. The consequences of getting caught are too dire to even consider. The government can deny you of your benefits – or worse, there won’t be a job waiting for you by the time you heal anymore. Given the situation, one can’t help but feel stuck on what decision to make. Sure, the benefits are enough to fend for your personal needs and necessities but can it support an entire family? Can it send your kids to a good school? What if you have a daughter in college? Or, what if her prom night is coming up? All these miscellaneous expenses are not covered by your sickness and disability benefits so the idea of earning money sounds very tempting. Not to mention, you don’t really know when you’ll be fit enough to work, exactly.
Thinking about all these things will not help with your recuperation at all. So before you fall too deep into your thoughts, let me just tell you something: It is possible to work while receiving benefits. You won’t be breaking any laws either. You can legitimately earn your keep without getting into all sorts of trouble. But of course, certain parameters or limitations must be set. This is to ensure that people don’t take advantage of being sick to earn double.
So, how can you earn money without getting into trouble?
Well, there are many ways. Just consider these rules before trying out anything:
Part-time Work Is Permissible; Just Don’t Overextend Your Hours
Yes, you read that right. You are legally allowed to go back to the workforce as long as it’s part-time and you follow the rules strictly. First off, you’re only allowed to work for 45 hours (if self-employed) or less per month. Anything more than that would be considered full-time and you will be stripped off of your benefits before you know it. If you have 45 hours per month, that roughly translates to 10 hours per week or 2 hours every day, Monday to Friday. It’s not much but hey, it will keep the buck rolling and that should be good enough.
“Why allow only 45 hours? I can handle more than that.” is probably what you’re thinking. Well, sure you can do more than that. But if you can, why bother asking the government for benefits? Shouldn’t you be fit enough to fend for your needs by then? You see, disability benefits are allotted for people who are incapable of supporting their day-to-day needs due to an injury, sickness, or disability. If you are up and about, that tells Social Security that you’ve recuperated enough to get back on your own two feet. If you don’t want to be rid of your benefits anytime soon, better watch your working hours. Also, aside from the hours, there’s also the SGA to worry about.
The SGA stands for Substantial Gainful Activity. This is the standard income a person must have in order to be disqualified for benefits. When you’ve reached a point where you’re well enough to earn $1,220 per month – $2,040 for blind beneficiaries – you are already considered stable and able. The SSA or Social Security Administration will then order the cessation of your benefits. Even if you are intentionally earning lower than the SGA to maintain your benefits, the SSA still conducts evaluative procedures to determine whether you are truly incapable of doing more work. This is why you can never try to fake it – and you shouldn’t fake it. Some people need this benefit more than you. It has helped you bounce back from your own bad experience, give others the same chance.
Doing Business Is Allowed As Well
If you’re self-employed, aka a business owner, you are also allowed to continue doing business as long as you are the only person capable of running business or if you aren’t making substantial income. The rules above apply here as well. If your business is earning more than the SGA, then your benefits will be jeopardized.
Mixed Income Is Okay As Long As You Don’t Earn Above What Is Allowed
Can you do business while doing part-time work? The answer is still yes. You can earn however way you want as long as you are still abiding by the rules and limitations and the SSA believes that you are still in need of the benefit. If they are able to leave you on your own devices (e.g. hospital visits aren’t as often, medications are few, etc.), then that’s the time they will halt your benefits.
What Happens When You Break Any Of These Rules?
Without doubt, your benefits will be forfeited. The SSA prioritizes people who need disability support the most. That’s the whole point of having these benefits. There’s no reason to panic, though. The SSA is not unreasonable enough to order the cessation of your benefits right then and there. There is what we call the “trial period” wherein beneficiaries are allowed to go back to doing full-time work while still receiving benefits. This usually lasts for nine months. Should the disability relapse, persist, or cause the person discomfort while at work during the course of the trial period, the SSA may consider reinstating lost benefits or continuing existing benefits for a longer period of time.