How much money can I make on Social Security disability in 2024?

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Since its inception, Social Security has benefitted hundreds of millions of Americans in need. A large portion of these benefits go to those with severe disabilities who are unable to earn sufficient wages. 

The United States Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two main disability benefit programs—Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). 

To be sure Social Security goes to those who need it most, income plays a large role in deciding who receives SSDI and SSI. 

Income Limits On Disability

Social Security Disability Income Limits

Social Security disability recipients must adhere to specific income limits to remain qualified for benefits. These limits are designed to enable the SSA to gauge each individual’s ability to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA), thereby allowing them to determine their eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Let's break down these income limits and their implications.

What Are the Income Limits for Social Security Disability?

The determination of benefit recipients' income by the SSA extends beyond the SGA limit. Firstly, while individuals may have the capacity to earn additional income up to the SGA limit each month, frequent surpassing of this threshold may trigger a trial work period (TWP). Thus, it’s absolutely crucial for disability recipients to be aware of these thresholds. In 2024, triggering a TWP occurs when earning more than $1,110 in additional income in a month. During a TWP, there are no restrictions on earnings, but individuals cannot surpass the SGA amount. Use our Social Security Benefits Calculator to help you estimate your potential monthly disability benefits amount based on your income. 

Secondly, the calculation for Social Security disability benefits takes into account the value of the assets, cash, and other resources that you own. However, the income of your spouse does not impact your eligibility; approval is solely determined by the amount you have previously contributed to Social Security (via paying FICA taxes when you were still able to work). While your assets themselves won't negatively affect your qualification for disability benefits, it's important to be aware of certain financial considerations. For instance, if your current job or self-employment income exceeds a specific amount, you may be deemed capable of working and, consequently, may not qualify. As a general guideline, you cannot currently earn more than $1,550 per month in 2024 to be considered for Social Security disability benefits. 

Negotiating these intricacies can be confusing for SSDI recipients, as they may be uncertain about which income limit to adhere to. Luckily, we have disability lawyers who stand ready to help people. A disability lawyer can evaluate the monthly income of SSDI recipients, ensuring adherence to the appropriate limits and safeguarding their continued access to benefits. Complete our Free Case Evaluation to get connected with an independent, participating disability lawyer who can help you today—all at zero cost to you. 

SSDI Forms of Income Not Included in Income Limits

These differ slightly from SSDI to SSI. In regards to SSDI, most forms of income that are not made directly from work wages or under-the-table work are not included in substantial gainful activity. This includes investments, interest, a spouse’s income, or other assets. 

SSI Forms of Income Not Included in Income Limits

When referring to SSI, it gets a bit trickier. Some assets and interest may count towards the monthly total while others may not. It is important to note that if you’re receiving SSI benefits, and you’re married to—and living in the same house as—someone who isn’t eligible for SSI, the SSA may count a portion of your spouse’s income as yours. In other words, your spouse’s income may affect your eligibility for SSI benefits. 

Even if you may have SGA, you can still apply for SSDI/SSI. 

Situations vary greatly from person to person. Depending on the nature of your disability and the nature of your income, you may still qualify for SSDI or SSI. Do not let these numbers prevent you from applying altogether — it is always better to apply and not qualify than not apply at all. 

Further Reading: How Do I Know If I Get SSI or SSDI? 

How much can I make and still get disability benefits?

SSI Maximum Monthly Income

For 2024, the maximum SSI payment is $1,415 per month for couples and $943 per month for eligible individuals.

SSI is calculated using the following formula: the maximum SSI federal benefit rate ($943 in 2024; $914 in 2023) – your countable income = your monthly SSI benefit. 

How Much Money Can You Make And Still Get SSI? 

You can not earn more than the federal benefit rate (FBR), which in 2024 is $943 for individuals and $1,415 a month for a married couple, and still get SSI. 

That is because SSI is a needs-based disability program means that anyone applying for SSI must only have income and assets that fall below a threshold. 

Anyone who has some countable income, that falls below the FBR, will face having their monthly SSI payments decreased by the value of the countable income. If an applicant for SSI has no countable income at all and is eligible for SSI, he or she will be awarded the total FBR paid monthly. 

Because SSI is viewed as a need-based program, this means to qualify for disability benefits payments, a number of factors concerning your income and assets are taken into consideration. Any adult in receipt of SSI payments will have any assets and other financial resources considered as well as income before the SSI benefit can be paid. These could include any of the following: 

  • retirement funds;
  • interest received as income from investments;
  • support provided by family and friends;
  • cash or assets from inheritance. 

Any assets that have a monetary value like: 

  • houses;
  • cars and other motor vehicles; and
  • commercial rental property. 

If you own only one home or one motor vehicle it is unlikely the value of these will be used in an SSI assessment. It is only likely to be evaluated if you own more than one vehicle or house. 

However, if you are saving money by living with relatives or friends and paying no rent this could affect whether you qualify for SSI benefits. Additionally, if you are married to someone who is in receipt of SSI benefits you will receive a joint SSI benefit. This does arise typically every year based on cost-of-living adjustments (COLA)

If a person who has not yet reached the age of 18 applies for SSI, the SSA is likely to consider both the income and financial resources of both the child and his/her parents. These could include the parents’ income from working in a job as well as any of the following: 

  • alimony,
  • child support,
  • retirement benefits,
  • investment income. 

Further Reading: SSI Eligibility 

Women Counts Monthly Income

SSDI Maximum Monthly Income

The maximum SSDI payment for eligible individuals in 2024 is $3,822 per month. According to the SSA, the average monthly SSDI payment was only about $1,358 per month in 2023. 

Can You Lose SSDI Benefits?

Yes, you can lose SSDI benefits based on a number of factors. The most common reason why the SSA would stop a person’s Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments is because the recipient has gone back to work, even though this isn’t always the case. If you go back to your normal job when in receipt of SSDI benefits the SSA will decide if you are taking part in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). 

The key factor in deciding if work is considered to be SGA is the amount someone is paid. In 2024, somebody is typically considered to be engaging in SGA if his/her earnings exceed $1,550 per month as a non-blind individual, or his/her earnings exceed $2,590 per month as a blind individual. 

For example, if you are earning $200 weekly in a part-time job, you are not working above the SGA limit. However, if you are spending a lot of time at work (i.e., working a full-time job) and your earnings both constitute and/or exceed SGA, you could have your SSDI stopped. 

Trial Work Periods 

If you are working and make over SGA you can be entered into a trial work period. This period allows somebody who is receiving SSDI benefits to try to go back to work without being told they will lose their SSDI eligibility. 

In the majority of cases, you should be able to work for up to 9 months during a trial work period and you will still continue to receive your SSDI regardless of the amount you are earning. When the trial work period comes to an end and you are still taking part in a job earning above the SGA level the SSA is likely to decide you are no longer disabled so your Social Security Disability payments will stop. 

Further Reading: How to Qualify for SSDI 

Other Reasons for Losing SSDI Benefits 

Other reasons why your SSDI benefits could be ceased are:

  • You have reached retirement age at 66 years and you will now no longer receive SSDI, but you will be eligible for Social Security retirement benefits instead.
  • When put in prison your SSDI benefits will stop after 30 days of incarceration and will only continue the month after your release. You may be treated differently if you are taking part in a rehabilitation program. 
    If you are convicted of a felony but you’re not incarcerated, your SSDI benefits may cease but if convicted of a misdemeanor this will not have any effect on your SSDI benefits unless you are put in jail for one month or more.
  • If your parents receive SSDI benefits and you’re receiving benefits as a dependent of theirs who is under 18 years old, you may stop receiving these SSDI benefits when you turn 18. 

How to Maintain Your SSDI Benefits 

Being approved for SSDI benefits helps people avoid financial hardship. However, most disability applicants have had to endure a difficult application process to get these entitlements. So, in order to hold on to them, you need to be aware of what you need to do. Three things you should do to keep your SSDI benefits active are as follows: 

  1. Keep seeing your doctor as this confirms you still have a disability;
  2. Maintain contact with the SSA on a regular basis;
  3. Notify the SSA if there are any changes to your circumstances such as: changing address, being charged with an offense, altering your name, losing custody of a child who is in receipt of SSI benefits, and taking up employment. 

In the majority of cases, when your situation is reviewed by the SSA, it typically confirms your ongoing need for disability benefits. If you can provide medical evidence that your health has not improved and if you have maintained contact with the SSA, your SSDI benefits will probably remain the same. If the SSA decides to review your case and you lose your SSDI as a result you may appeal the decision within ten days of the SSA notification. 

To learn more about the likelihood of your application getting approved, check out our blog: Top 5 Signs That You Will Be Approved For Disability

Can You Get SSDI and SSI at the Same Time? 

Yes, you can get both SSDI and SSI at the same time—so long as you meet the criteria for both programs respectively. Generally speaking, the SSDI benefit a person receives ends up being worth too much money for them to simultaneously financially qualify for SSI benefits. In other words, for many individuals who have met the requirements for and are receiving monthly SSDI benefits, SSI may be out of reach due to their elevated income or assets. 

There are instances where applying for both programs is advisable, such as when there is an urgent need for health insurance. SSI extends Medicaid coverage immediately upon acceptance of your application, while SSDI entails a waiting period of 24 months before Medicare coverage begins. 

For those curious about whether they should apply for both SSDI and SSI, further information is available (see "Further Information" at the end of this section). 

Concerning the combined payout of SSDI and SSI, it's important to note that the amalgamation of SSDI and SSI benefits does not necessarily translate into a combined payout that is the sum of both benefits’ monthly maximum monetary amounts. The maximum amount one can receive when enrolled in both programs simultaneously is $943 in 2024. 

As the highest achievable SSI benefit stands at $943, this figure also represents the maximum sum obtainable from both programs concurrently. Simplifying the calculation, each dollar received from SSDI corresponds to a dollar subtracted from the $943 maximum SSI amount. For instance, if an individual is receiving $800 from SSDI, this amount is deducted from the $943 maximum SSI benefit, resulting in an SSI check of $143. Additional income sources will further reduce the SSI benefit. 

This is because SSI is a needs-based program and, as such, has income caps in place to make sure that the people receiving SSI benefit checks each month actually need them. To qualify for SSI, you’ll need to have less than $2,000 in income and assets if you are unmarried. If you are married, your combined income and assets with your spouse will need to be less than $3,000. 

Further Reading: How Much Does SSI and SSDI Pay Together? 

Qualify For Disability Benefits Today

Social Security can be complicated and very intimidating to apply for. It is also vital that everything is completed correctly so that your chances of receiving benefits are their highest. In addition to meeting financial requirements, you will need to meet a Blue Book listing for a disabling medical condition. Some conditions may even automatically qualify

To maximize your potential to receive benefits, consider getting assistance from a Social Security attorney or disability advocate. They can help in filing paperwork and presenting cases can make all the difference you need to qualify for the benefits you deserve. If you are denied disability, an attorney can help you file an appeal. 

Complete the Free Case Evaluation form on this page right now to get connected and speak with a disability lawyer who can help you today—all at zero cost to you. 

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