THE SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY BLOG

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Can I Apply for Social Security Disability If I Am Working?

Social Security Disability is based on the principle that individuals should receive some financial assistance if they:

  • have an injury or illness that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death, and
  • are unable to perform their prior work or adapt to other work.

If you are working and earning income while applying for Social Security Disability, then the Social Security Administration will consider whether you are capable of “substantial gainful activity” or SGA. Under current (May 2014) Social Security law, you are presumed capable of SGA if you are able to work and earn at least $1,070 per month (or $1,800 per month if you are blind). SGA involves doing significant physical and/or mental activities for pay or profit. SGA can include part time work.

In determining whether your work qualifies as SGA, the Social Security Administration will consider numerous factors such as your income earning ability, the type of work that you are doing, whether you require assistance or special equipment to perform tasks, your need to take frequent breaks or rest, the extent of accommodation by a friendly employer, whether you are allowed to work irregular or fewer hours, or produce less work than other workers.

You may apply for Social Security Disability at any time when you are no longer able to work if there is a reasonable expectation that you will be unable to work full-time for at least the next 12 months and your employment income falls below the amount allowed for SGA.

In some circumstances, a disability claimant may have a skill or hobby, such as selling items on eBay, that allows them to make an effort to earn money, but due to their injury or illness, they are unable to work a regular job under normal circumstances. Most people would prefer to work and be productive. If you are working while you are applying for Social Security Disability, this employment may negatively impact your ability to be approved for benefits because it presents a greater challenge to prove that you are not capable of SGA. You should consult an experience lawyer for advice on the tricky and confusing topics of SGA, work, and disability.

This article is for information purposes only and is not to be considered or substituted as legal advice. The information in this article is based on Federal and North Carolina state laws in effect at the time of posting.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY QUESTIONS

Q. When can I expect a hearing on my claim?

Due to the large number of appeals in Social Security cases, it is often many months before each level of an appeal is decided. You are generally given several months notice prior to a hearing before an ALJ and you will be expected to attend that hearing unless you have an extraordinary reason why you cannot attend. The exact number of months between appeals varies from time to time and there is little that can be done by you or your lawyer to speed up the process in light of the huge backlog of cases waiting for a hearing. Once a hearing is held, the ALJ should render a favorable or unfavorable decision within ninety (90) days of the hearing.

Q. What is an Administrative Law Judge Social Security Hearing?

A. Social Security hearings are held by a judge called an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The hearings are relatively informal and have no District Attorney or U.S. Attorney present representing Social Security. Some ALJs will ask questions, some will let your lawyer ask all the questions. All you should do is tell the ALJ what is wrong with you and why you are unable to return to work. The ALJ will hear all the evidence and make a decision based on your medical records and testimony heard at the hearing. Sometimes the ALJ will request a Vocational or Medical Expert to testify regarding hypothetical circumstances regarding your condition(s). Your lawyer should help you understand the issues, expected testimony and procedure.

Q. How long do I have to wait to file SS disability benefits?

A. No waiting period at all. You can file for SS disability the day you become disabled. SS law requires that your disabling condition either result in death or last for a period of twelve (12) months or more. Since the appeals process generally takes a few years, you should apply for disability as soon as you believe you are disabled.

Q. How do lawyers get paid for handling SS disability cases?

A. Most attorneys charge a contingent fee which is the lesser of $5300 or 25% percent of your back benefits. A contingent fee means that if your claim is denied, no attorneys fees are owed. The Administrative Law Judge must review and approve employment agreements before any legal fees can be charged. Most lawyers will advance the expenses of a claim with the understanding that these costs will be recovered when the claim is approved.

Q. Can I draw private disability checks while also receiving Social Security checks for disability?

A. Yes. The terms of your private disability checks are contractual and control whether these payments are pro-rated or changed by the receipt of Social Security checks. Federal law requires full payment of Social Security disability checks regardless of the receipt of private disability checks for the same disability. However, most private disability plans have contractual provisions requiring repayment and/or discounts of compensation paid when SS disability check commence.

Q. What if I am getting Workers' Compensation benefits?

SS law requires that all other benefits you receive be accounted for. This accounting normally means that SS benefits are offset or reduced by the other benefits you receive. While Federal law requires you to report all payments you receive, the offset can often be lessened or eliminated with very careful planning and legal wording in your Workers' Compensation settlement. You should consult your lawyer for proper wording.

SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY VIDEOS

Our Video Library is not closed-captioned.  Instead of embedding our videos, we have created posts for them, where full transcripts of can be found. Click on the links below to view the video and its transcript.

Social Security Detail

Social Security – Detail

Social Security part 4

Social Security Part 4

Social Security part 3

Social Security Part 3

Social Security part 2

Social Security Part 2

Social Security part 1

Social Security Part 1

Rules Regarding Social Security Disability and Your Employment

Rules Regarding Social Security Disability and Your Employment

Social Security Hearing Timeframe

Resolution of Social Security Disability Cases: A Timeframe Overview

Contemporaneous Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Claims

Contemporaneous Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Benefit

Working While on Social Security

Social Security Disability and Your Employment

Appealing Social Security Denials

Appealing the Denial of Your Social Security Disability Claim

Work History Requirements

Work History Requirements for Social Security Disability

Drug and Alcohol Dependency and Social Security Disability

Drug and Alcohol Dependency and Social Security Disability

Child Eligibility for Social Security

Child Eligibility for Social Security Benefits and Social Security Insurance

The Administrative Law Judge’s Role in Social Security Disability

The Administrative Law Judge’s Role in the Social Security Appellate Hearing

Compassionate North Carolina Social Security Disability Lawyer

David Gantt describes his History in Helping People with Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Cases

~ What Our Clients Say ~

2019 Google Review

August 7, 2019

The entire staff were welcoming, knowledgeable, helpful, and nice people! David was professional. He knew exactly what he was talking about and did what he said he was going to do. I have had a wonderful experience with this firm and will not hesitate to use them in the future.

2019 AVVO Review “Get ‘er done Gantt!”

July 10, 2019

I was very satisfied with David Gantt’s expertise and knowledge in all aspects handling my case. He dealt with all the paperwork and contacted all necessary providers to get my medical history – it was extremely hassle free! He communicated and counseled me on what to expect – being very forthcoming (he’s a straight shooter)!…

2019 Facebook review

June 5, 2019

I highly recommend Mr. Gantt. He is very kind and always professional. He prepared me for my disability hearing and calmed my nerves. Everything happened exactly as he said it would. I honestly do not think that I would have been approved for disability without his help. Also, his office staff were always ready to…

2019 Google Review

May 28, 2019

Mr. Gantt took good care of me. I will be forever grateful for him getting me the social security payments I need for a disability due to military service. He seems like a genuine compassionate good man. I highly recommend! ~C.M.

2019 Google Review

May 10, 2019

David and his entire staff are so nice and show compassion to everybody. He was there when I had any questions. David Gantt is the best attorney in his field, he goes above and beyond. I am extremely grateful to him and his staff. ~M.H.

2019 Google Review

May 9, 2019

Very nice and friendly service. They always answered any of my questions. Had a great experience working with them on my disability case. I highly recommend there services! After trying for 6 years and 2 unfavorable decisions, David and his team did a great job representing my case and won. I appreciate there time and…

2019 Google Review

May 9, 2019

The whole office is very respectful. Answered all my questions. So Glad they were there cause I had no clue after fighting for 2 years. Thank you guys soo much. ~K.H.

2019 Google Review

May 9, 2019

I am very grateful to David Gantt & his staff! They were wonderful and made the confusing process much easier to understand. I wish I had contacted them sooner. They were super to work with and such nice people! Thank you so much! ~K.S.

Avvo Review 2019

May 7, 2019

Mr. Gantt is a highly compassionate and professional lawyer. He worked hard for me to show my disabilities. Always pleasant and supportive, while being very much on top of his cases. I recommend David Gantt to anyone. Great Attorney! 5 Stars. ~ Dakota

Google Review 2019

April 10, 2019

Wonderful client services..very friendly and willing to go the extra mile to help clients. highly recommend him for anyone needing assistance for the Disability SSI. ~T.D.

2019 Google Review

April 9, 2019

I am so grateful to Mr. Gantt & his staff. They have been so professional and knowledgeable. They’ve answered all of my questions and made a very stressful situation, bearable. I would not hesitate to recommend Mr. Gantt. He is knowledgeable, professional & caring. ~J.H.

Avvo Review 2019

April 8, 2019

Linda Calloway Mundy David Gantt is an outstanding Lawyer. I highly recommend him. He was beside me all the way and I would like to thank him. ~Linda 5 Stars

2019 Google Review

March 9, 2019

David Gantt and his staff are very professional, upfront, honest and nice. They made me feel at ease discussing my case. They helped me with every step of the way towards my disability approval. I would recommend them to anyone. They kept me updated on everything. Just wish I had contacted them sooner. ~D.P.S.

2019 Google Review

February 10, 2019

When I applied for Social Security Disability I saw no reason that I would need a lawyer since my case seemed clear. It wasn’t until the second rejection that I realized that I had no idea how the system worked. A couple of local lawyers I had contacted suggested that I talked to David Gantt…

2019 Google Review

February 10, 2019

This office is fantastic. The staff is helpful and friendly. He is honest with you about the pros and cons of your case. He works hard to get a positive result. ~S.G.

Martindale Review 2019

January 21, 2019

5.0/5.0 in Social Security. David was very professional, pleasant and focused on me and my situation while I was in his office. He did not allow interruptions. His office staff was helpful and readily available when I had questions.

Martindale Review 2018

October 8, 2018

Recommended 5.0/5.0 in Social Security. I highly recommended David Gantt. He is a kind and generous person. He puts you at ease from the minute that you meat him. Very efficient and does what he says he’ll do. His staff is awesome too. Trust me… You can’t go wrong with David Gantt.