I have addressed this topic before, but it has been a while. Because Social Security continues to make people wait years to get a decision on their Social Security disability applications, the question of working while a Social Security disability application is pending is more timely than ever.
In Case You Missed It
To recap my earlier post, Social Security will find that you are working full time if you earn more than a certain amount of money each month. This amount is what they call substantial gainful activity (SGA). At present, SGA is $1,180.00 per month. Earn SGA and you are not eligible for Social Security disability benefits. But, you can make more than that and remain eligible for Social Security disability benefits under certain circumstances.
If At First You Don't Succeed, Keep Your Application Going
One way to earn more than SGA and keep an application for Social Security disability benefits alive is an unsuccessful work attempt (UWA). A UWA
occurs when a disabled person returns to work but cannot maintain that employment due to her medical impairments. Social Security encourages people to work when they are able. This is why Social Security generally looks at UWA's favorably.
No More Than Six Months At A Time
Keep in mind that a UWA should not exceed about six months. Beyond that, it is starting to look like you are able to work. Also, there needs to be at least a 1-month gap between UWA's. Having too many jobs with only a short break in between signals that there is more than disability at issue. I had a client who earned large amounts of money in short periods of time after which he would stop working for a while. Looked at in the aggregate, such a work history is hard to fit neatly into the UWA framework.
Work If You Can
The summary here is that if you can work, you should work. But, if you are medically unable to keep a job for more than six months or have at least a one month gap between jobs, you can be relatively sure that Social Security will still entertain your disability application.