Earned Income – SSI SSDI Glossary

David Dowd

Earned income is typically any income from a source of employment.  When applying for Social Security Disability you are allowed to work and collect wages from an employer.  The amount you are allowed to bring home each month is important to note if you are planning on working while applying for disability.  The Social Security Administration considers any income that is paid over $1100 a month before taxes to be what they call substantial gainful activity.  What this means is it doesn’t matter what your doctor has diagnosed you with, it doesn’t matter what your medical records say, nothing matters regarding your medical condition if you are earning over substantial gainful activity.  In short you could have no arms and no legs but are earning over substantial gainful activity you will NOT be found to be disabled under the rules established by the Social Security Administration.  If you are applying or planning to apply for SSI or SSDI and continue to work it is very important to stay under the amount set by the SSA.  We usually tell our clients to keep a buffer of $100 and do not try to get as close as you can to the dollar limit set by the SSA.  If you are applying or collecting disability and you find a job that pays over $1100 a month before taxes you are entitled to a trial work period.  This allows a person to attempt a job for 90 days.  During this 90 day period a pending application would not be closed out and if you were collecting disability your checks would not stop.  If you are able to do your new job for over 90 days any applications and future benefits would cease.  Applying for Social Security can be tough with limited income.  We get the irony of substantial gainful activity.  Making over $1100 a month before taxes might have been substantial in 1952.

Income Allowed by Social Security from Employment  
YearBlindNon-Blind
2005$1,380$830
20061,450860
20071,500900
20081,570940
20091,640980
20101,6401,000
20111,6401,000
20121,6901,010
20131,7401,040
20141,8001,070
20151,8201,090
20161,8201,130
20171,9501,170