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Can You Earn Money While on Social Security Disability?

Many people are under the notion that people who are on Social Security Disability are not allowed to earn any money at all. I have, in fact, known disabled people who were even afraid to sell some of their used items on eBay for fear that it would actually put their Social Security Disability income at risk. Are these fears founded? Are the people who receive Social Security Disability benefits prevented from receiving any income other than what their Social Security Disability income provides?

The fact of the matter is that people who receive Social Security Disability are indeed allowed to receive income while receiving disability payments. If you earn a few dollars here and there, the government isn't going to assume you can go to work full time. People with severe disabilities have good days and there might be times when you can babysit for a friend for a few hours or list some things on eBay or Craigslist. It doesn't mean you aren't disabled and it doesn't mean you are not entitled to Social Security Disability.

With that being said, however, it is important to understand that there are limits as to how much income you can receive if you want your Social Security Disability benefits to continue. Before you try earning money while receiving Social Security Disability, make sure you're familiar with the following facts.

Understanding the Limits

First and foremost, you need to understand that you can earn up to $720 per month without it affecting your disability benefits whatsoever. If your income exceeds $720 per month, however, it could have an impact on your benefits over time. That does not mean that you will lose your Social Security Disability if you earn $720 one month and never earn another penny again, but if you begin to earn $720 a month or more on a regular basis, you need to know that your Social Security Disability benefits are not going to continue after a certain amount of time.

So exactly how does it work? What happens if you earn more than $720 a month? You don't lose your benefits right away. The Social Security Administration has work incentives for people who are interested in getting back to work and earning a living. People would be less apt to try going back to work if it meant losing their benefits the minute a paycheck came in. The Social Security Administration understands this fact and has implemented policies to make an attempt at work a more feasible option.

Long-Term Income

If you are on Social Security disability, you can earn $720 per month for nine months without having your benefits affected. Now, don't think you can earn $720 per month for four months and then quit for two months and then start again. When the clock for the nine month “trial work” period begins ticking, it lasts for the duration of a sixty-month period. If you work for a total of nine months during that sixty-month period, your Social Security Disability benefits will stop, even if the nine months are not consecutive.

So what happens if you earn $720 a month for nine months? Do your benefits stop completely? That all depends. For each month that you earn an income of more than $1,000, you will not receive Social Security Disability benefits. If, however, your income stops or your disability prevents you from continuing the work, you have 36 months to begin your benefits again.

The Bottom Line

There are many people who just can't make ends meet on the Social Security Disability income they receive. If you are one of them, you're not alone. Fortunately, you don't have to worry about your Social Security Disability benefits being stripped away from you if you earn a few dollars here and there.

Obviously, if you want to sell a few things on eBay, babysit for a friend or make some money doing surveys online, it isn't going to affect your ability to receive Social Security Disability. If, however, you decide to work on a regular basis and your income exceeds $720 per month, your benefits will be affected.

Don't let a fear of losing your Social Security Disability prevent you from improving your quality of life. If you want to earn some extra income or do a little bit of work here and there, it probably won't impact your ability to receive Social Security Disability benefits. Contrary to what many people think, earning a few dollars while on Social Security Disability is not breaking any rules.