Working full time and considering a future SSDI/SSI application?


What if I am working full time?

What if I am working full time?  This is a question I get a lot.  It is very common for someone to request a consult with me to create a plan to file for SSDI/SSI benefits.  I have met with many prospects who share a similar story: their doctor sat them down and explained how bad a diagnosis was. The doctor then advised the patient to leave the workforce and apply for disability.  It is easier to say this than to do it.  It is hard to walk away from work over the period of  weeks or months and have any stability.  So, many individuals continue to work against their physicians’ orders.

Review of Applicant’s Work History

The Social Security Administration (SSA) reviews a disability applicant’s work in two ways. The first is whether the individual is working above the set limit per month (“Substantial Gainful Activity”) requiring SSA to consider the claim for denial. This will change every year. The Substantial Gainful Activity for 2018 is $1,180/month for anyone who is disabled by a condition other than blindness. It is probably obvious at this point that the majority of people working full time make above this amount.

Part-Time vs. Full-Time

An individual may consider working part time. This gets us to the second aspect that SSA considers when reviewing a claimant’s work.  SSA must determine what the claimant can do full time, even if he or she is not actually working that many hours when they apply.  SSA will review any work being done, along with other documents in the claimant’s file. It will then determine whether evidence suggests the claimant can perform full-time work. For example, individuals under the age of 50 generally must prove that they are unable to perform any full-time work – even a sit-down job.  By working a heavy labor job 20 hours a week, SSA may decide there is a less demanding job the claimant could perform full time.

Supporting Documentation from Treating Physician

The greatest chance of success is for the claimant to consult with their physician about when to leave work.  The claimant should try to make it as long as he or she is capable.  When the claimant finally applies for disability, he or she should ask for supporting documentation from the treating physician.  This will give SSA an idea of how the conditions affect the claimant.  It will also give the SSA an idea about how long it may take for these conditions to resolve.  The goal is to give the disabled individual enough time to seek appropriate treatment, recuperate and return to work as soon as possible.


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