Tucson Social Security Disability Blog

How Much Can I Work Before Social Security Says I Am Working Full Time?

Posted by John Kuhnlein | Sep 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

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

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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

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Watch As The Months Pass

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.

About the Author

John Kuhnlein

Since 1992, I have been helping the people of Southern Arizona get the benefits they are due. Before devoting all my efforts to assisting people with Social Security disability claims, I also handled such complex lawsuits as medical malpractice and products liability. I brought to my Social Security cases all the skills and attention to detail that I developed in the courtroom. I approach each Social Security disability case as if it were a million-dollar lawsuit. For the people trying to get Social Security benefits, their claim is every bit as important. Because I have personally handled so many Social Security cases, I have refined the skills I need to win your case for you. I have helped people win cases for every kind of ailment from arthritis to valley fever. At present, I am focused on helping those persons with neurological and orthopedic disorders. Because claims for people over age fifty bring additional complications, I particularly seek out those cases to work on. I regularly write about back and spine conditions on my blog. I actively seek out the latest information about orthopedic and neurological disorders to ensure I can represent my clients as effectively as possible. Because of my current focus, I regret that I am not able to take any cases for mental disorders. If you are over age fifty and suffer from any orthopedic or neurological disorder, please contact me at once.


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John Kuhnlein has been assisting people with Social Security disability claims for the past 20 years.

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