The Rules of Working While on Disability

Disability isn’t always a black and white, cut and dry scenario. Sometimes, a disability simply prevents a worker from full-time employment, which makes the rules of working while on disability oftentimes very grey.

Think about it this way: Let’s say you’ve been diagnosed with a treatable form of cancer. You need to undergo chemotherapy. For many people, chemotherapy isn’t totally debilitating. You can still work, but simply lack the strength for your usual full-time employment. In fact, it’s likely you’d want to continue working, rather than stay cooped up at home.

Continuing to work can help a disabled person, both financially and emotionally.

Social Security Disability and Part-time Work

That’s why the Social Security Administration allows working while on disability for those who have applied for or are receiving benefits, as long as the individual’s earnings don’t go over a certain amount each year.

In 2015, that amount is $1,090 per month.

Beyond that, the SSA encourages people to return to work when they can, by continuing to pay benefits during a trial work period.

In this case, disability and part-time work can actually be a good fit.

Workers’ Compensation and Part-time Work

If you’re collecting workers’ compensation benefits, the rules of working while on disability vary.

According to,Can I Work part-time While Collecting Disability?a Chron.com article by Lee Nichols, 

Louisiana forbids you to get another job while receiving WC benefits. However, in Massachusetts if you already have another job, you can continue to work as long as your duties do not conflict with your injury and you report the income to your workers’ compensation benefit provider.

Working While on Disability

If you carry your own disability insurance, whether you’ve bought your own policy or one has been provided to you through your employer, working while on disability depends entirely on your policy.

There is a wide variation in the types of policies available, so the best way to find out is to read your policy documents carefully, or contact the provider.

Nichols writes:

Typical policies allow you to work, but reduce your benefit by the amount you earn. While this may seem to defeat the purpose of working, it can extend your benefit if your policy has a cap on its lifetime benefit amount.

Here are some questions to ask about the rules of working while on disability:

  • What would happen if I am disabled such that I can only do part of my job?
  • What if I can only work part-time? Will I be able to receive a partial benefit?

Working while on disability is possible. Many providers will pay partial benefits that, together with your part-time pay, will bring you to 100 percent of your pre-disability salary.

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