This article is about applying for Social Security disability. If you are trying to apply for private disability through your employer, please read this instead: How to Apply for LTD & STD
Now then, about Social Security disability:
💠 You are allowed to apply for disability while you are working, as long as you are earning less than $1,170 per month.
💠 If you are self-employed, they may consider a yearly average, and they will consider the amount of earnings after your business expenses. Please take a look here for more info on Special Notes for People Who Are Self-Employed
💠 Many disability lawyers recommend not to work while applying, and some will not accept any clients who are working.
💠 Although Social Security does not have any rules forbidding working, I assume the lawyers are advising this because they are finding that it can be more difficult to get approved while working.
💠 It is possible to get approved while working. I have met people who have done it.
💠 If you are working, it is extra important to have strong support from your doctor. It will help if your doctor clearly writes that you are medically unable perform “substantial gainful activity” (work and earn more than $1,170 per month). It will also help if your doctor offers a detailed written explanation of how your symptoms prevent you from performing Substantial Gainful Activity. This can be written in your medical records and also on an RFC form.
💠 Most doctors do not know the social security regulations. Please share with your doctor the regs: Unable to sustain work at more than $1,170 per month. Some doctors think you must be unable to do any work at all, but this is not the Social Security policy.
💠 If your employer has seen you struggle at work, or seen your health decline, a letter from your employer may be helpful to your case: Sample Letter from Employers
💠 If you return to work while applying, Social Security will continue to process your application, as long as your income is below $1,170 per month. However, there is a chance they may change your onset date – which means you may get less backpay. In some cases, working for just a few weeks could mean getting many thousands of dollars less in backpay.
💠 Once you are on disability, you are also allowed to work, but there are many factors to take into consideration. Here’s some more info on How to Work Without (Too Much) Trouble
💠 If you are working, please check and see if your employer offers disability insurance. If the answer is yes, you definitely want to apply for this. Disability insurance through your employer can be much much much faster than Social Security disability, and many people start by collecting this as their first step. Learn more about: How to Apply for Disability through Your Employer
💠 Also, please check to see if your employer’s retirement plan offers any kind of funds for disability retirement.
💠 Also, check your life insurance policy for any disability funds available.
💠 Finally, if you are in California, Hawaii, New York, or New Jersey, please look into applying for short term disability through the state.