It can be progressive for some people and momentary for others. The repercussions will be long-term regardless of the outcome. And in both cases, you can’t keep your job due to your condition; thus, you need financial aid. Social Security Disability Insurance is available to people who have trouble making ends meet due to mental or physical impairment (SSDI).
However, there are restrictions on earned income and assets while receiving SSDI benefits. Social Security could revoke your eligibility if you’re not careful. You can protect yourself against this by familiarizing yourself with the 2021 Social Security Disability income restrictions.
Social Security Disability Income Limits
While Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be helpful in many situations, potential recipients should think long and hard about applying for benefits before doing so. Maximum monthly disability payments in 2021 are $3,148. On average, a monthly payment of $1,277 can be expected. Due to legal income restrictions, that could not be enough to support your lifestyle.
See how they function below:
Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)
Social Security disability payments for disabled workers averaged $1,277 in December 2020. That’s insufficient on its own, but it can assist in supplementing a family’s income. In 2021, the federal poverty line was set at $12,880, so receiving only that amount in benefits would be extremely difficult.
So, many people receiving disability benefits also work to boost their financial stability. Investments, inheritance, or even regular paychecks could be the key to financial independence. However, labor that brings in more money than the disability income threshold is considered a “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). Indulging in SGA activity may result in the termination of benefits. Thus, tracking your earnings while still on disability or seeking it is crucial.
However, if you are classified as disabled, you must follow specific guidelines for SGA. The SGA rule affects Supplemental Security Income and Social Security for disabled people who are not blind. The $1,310 per month SGA allotment for this group in 2021 is as follows. However, this solely applies to blind people’s Social Security benefits. The SGA for 2021 for those who fall into this bracket is $2,190.
Trial Work Periods
After some time has passed, you may feel ready to rejoin the workforce. You can make that happen. If you currently receive benefits and want to return to the workforce, you may qualify for a trial work period (TWP).
During these nine months, your earnings are uncapped. As a result, you won’t have to worry about losing your monthly benefits due to SGA. However, the nature of your handicap must not prohibit you from performing this work. For example, suppose you’re receiving disability payments because of a physical injury. In that case, you probably shouldn’t work a job requiring a lot of physical exertion. Doing so could cause Social Security benefits to be questioned.
The trial period need not be nine consecutive months. However, a 60-month rolling term is an option for those who get SSDI. You can stop working and keep getting benefits if you feel that doing the work is impossible. If your monthly income is above the threshold specified, that much of the month will be applied toward the trial term. That means the SSDI recipient will need to have earnings of at least $940 in 2021.
The SSA will review the recipient if he or she works for the entire trial period and earns more than $940 per month. There will be a three-month grace period for any hours worked beyond the SGA limit. During that time, they can keep receiving benefits as usual, but once it ends, that’s it.
If you make more than your SGA allowance, you may have to complete a trial period before being allowed to participate fully in the workforce.
Extended Eligibility Period
Some recipients may belong to a different group. When their trial time ends, they will have earned more than $940 but less than the SGA of $1,310. (for non-blind individuals). People in certain situations may be eligible for a more extended period of eligibility. It starts once your free trial ends and continues for another three years. You can still receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits during the prolonged eligibility period. You will only get them in the months when your income is below the SSDI threshold for 2021.
Then, if you continue to make more money than the SSDI threshold allows, your payments will expire after 36 months. However, you are free to reapply for assistance. You can reapply for approval if you become disabled again within the next five years. This is identified as an Expedited Reinstatement (EXR) of Benefits. Therefore, the reinstatement of your benefits and authorization will occur much more rapidly than the initial time.
When and how to apply for disability benefits
When deciding whether or not to award disability payments, Social Security considers several different aspects.
First, you must have worked for an employer contributing to Social Security. You can contribute to Social Security through payroll deductions or your self-employment taxes. According to statistics provided by the Social Security Administration, this description fits 89% of working American residents between the ages of 21 and 64. Earning Social Security work credits in the meantime will improve your chances of being approved for those benefits in the event of a disability.
The minimum yearly salary requirement to qualify for a work credit changes yearly. Every $1,470 you made in 2021 will get you one credit toward your total. The maximum number of credits you can earn in a year is four, and you can reach that threshold by making $5,880 in earnings or self-employment revenue.
Your age will determine the total number of work credits required to qualify, and younger workers typically have lower requirements. Usually, the regulations are laid out as follows:
- You need about six credits during the three years before your impairment, and you must have earned them before you turn 24.
- If you are between the ages of 24 and 31, you qualify if you have worked at least half the time between turning 21 and now. Therefore, if you were 29 and got incapacitated, you would need to have worked for at least four years.
- Those aged 31 and up – In most cases, you’ll need 20 credits within the last ten years before being incapacitated to qualify.
Here is a table from the Social Security Administration that provides estimates based on one’s age and years of employment. Keep in mind that there is a time limit on acquiring credit.
It would help if you also had a medical condition that meets Social Security’s criteria for disability.
There are typically five factors considered:
- Suppose you are currently employed, and your salary exceeds the maximum allowed by the disability income guidelines. In that case, you are not required to file for disability. Those who are above the threshold typically do not qualify.
- The seriousness of your current state. You shouldn’t be able to accomplish things like walking, sitting, standing, remembering, or lifting for at least a year.
- If your medical condition is included on the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) list of debilitating conditions.
- If your health problems make it impossible for you to return to your old job.
- If your health problems restrict you from working in other occupations.
If you are only temporarily disabled, you will not be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. To qualify, you need to be totally unable to work.
However, there are some instances where a given person might not match these specifications. People who are blind or have low eyesight, kids with disabilities, soldiers and veterans who have been injured in combat, and widows and widowers are all examples.
Maintaining your Social Security disability insurance payments
Those who are contemplating asking for assistance or who are already receiving them may feel as though they are balancing precariously. In particular, they may be subject to stringent regulations if they are already working or want to start doing so. It is, therefore, essential that you know what you must do to keep receiving SSDI benefits.
There is a chance that something will change while you’re enrolled. You may change residences, work part-time, or start a family. You must inform the Social Security Administration of any changes in your situation that may affect your eligibility. If feasible, you should submit your report no later than the tenth day of the month following the one where the modification took place. This document contains a more comprehensive list of accountability for reporting.
It’s also essential to monitor your health, insurance, and salary. Keeping up with your healthcare visits will indicate your ongoing incapacity. Also, remember to tally your monthly earnings to avoid going over your allotted spending. You can file an appeal should your benefits ever be terminated. You have 60 days from when Social Security notified you of the SSA’s decision to appeal the ruling. To file an appeal with the Social Security Administration, you can either do so online through their website, download the appropriate paperwork, or contact your local Social Security office and mail them to you.
Disabled people rely heavily on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), despite its relatively low benefits. To top it all off, thanks to their payroll deductions, more than 156 million people with occupations covered by Social Security enjoy its benefits. Currently, the program serves about 8.1 million people.
However, the established income constraints can make it challenging to either navigate the cost of living or maintain oneself financially. Considering this and the stringent approval criteria, speaking with a financial counselor could be beneficial. They can aid in financial planning and administration.
This way, you can maintain your eligibility for the program while increasing your capacity to support yourself financially.
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