How Much Can Person On Social Security Disability Earn?

One of the most vexing but important question for many disabled Americans receiving Social Security or other disability benefits is “How much can I earn without loosing my benefits?”

The question is an important one for millions of Americans.  While believers in certain stereotypes might view this question more cynically, persons suffering with disabilities often want to work as much as possible within the limits of their disability but often face challenge judging not only the availability of reliable work, but also their ability to perform that work reliably, the financial viability of performing that work after weighing:

  • Concerns about their ability to get work that the disabled individual can reliably perform with sufficient regularity; and
  • The financial viability of accepting the available work after taking into account added costs for accommodations, transportation or other support, childcare, clothing, education, and other necessary arrangements.

Unfortunately,  a disabled person or his family member considering these and other challenges in light of their functional capacity often concludes that the disabled person remains unable to support him or herself through available full-time employment and therefore, must stay on disability.

Even where a disabled individual lacks the ability to obtain appropriate employment that would allow him to end reliance on his disability benefits, however, many disabled individuals still want and often need to work to supplement their limited disability income, promote dignity and well-being or for other valid reasons.  When the planned supplemental occupation will include some compensation, questions and confusion about how the supplemental income may affect the disability benefits that the disabled person relies upon often deter or even prevent the disabled person from seeking, accepting, or fully taking advantage of his earning potential within the limits of the rules.

While focused only on Social Security disability benefits and not necessarily tailored to answer all questions, the Social Security Administration does provide some helpful resources for disabled individuals about how income can affect their Social Security Disability Benefit eligibility, how to apply for benefits, information on finding a job, how working might affect Social Security disability payments and other challenges.  To review these resources, check out these guides on

About Project COPE: The Coalition On Patient Empowerment & Its  Coalition on Responsible Health Policy

Do you have feedback about how helpful these resources are for disabled persons and their families?  Know other helpful resources or experiences that you are willing to share?  Are you concerned about health care coverage or other health care and disability issues or policy concerns?  Join the discussion and share your input by joining Project COPE: Coalition for Patient Empowerment here.

Sharing and promoting the use of practical practices, tools, information and ideas that patients and their families, health care providers, employers, health plans, communities and policymakers can share and offer to help patients, their families and others in their care communities to understand and work together to better help the patients, their family and their professional and private care community plan for and manage these  needs is the purpose of Project COPE, The Coalition on Patient Empowerment & It’s Affiliate, the Coalition on Responsible Health Policy.

The best opportunity to improve access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans is for every American, and every employer, insurer, and community organization to seize the opportunity to be good Samaritans.  The government, health care providers, insurers and community organizations can help by providing education and resources to make understanding and dealing with the realities of illness, disability or aging easier for a patient and their family, the affected employers and others. At the end of the day, however, caring for people requires the human touch.  Americans can best improve health care by not waiting for someone else to step up:  Step up and help bridge the gap when you or your organization can. Speak up to help communicate and facilitate when you can.  Building health care neighborhoods filled with good neighbors throughout the community is the key.

The outcome of this latest health care reform push is only a small part of a continuing process.  Whether or not the Affordable Care Act makes financing care better or worse, the same challenges exist.  The real meaning of the enacted reforms will be determined largely by the shaping and implementation of regulations and enforcement actions which generally are conducted outside the public eye.  Americans individually and collectively clearly should monitor and continue to provide input through this critical time to help shape constructive rather than obstructive policy. Regardless of how the policy ultimately evolves, however, Americans, American businesses, and American communities still will need to roll up their sleeves and work to deal with the realities of dealing with ill, aging and disabled people and their families.  While the reimbursement and coverage map will change and new government mandates will confine providers, payers and patients, the practical needs and challenges of patients and families will be the same and confusion about the new configuration will create new challenges as patients, providers and payers work through the changes.

We also encourage you and others to help develop real meaningful improvements by joining Project COPE: Coalition for Patient Empowerment here by sharing ideas, tools and other solutions and other resources. The Coalition For Responsible Health Care Policy provides a resource that concerned Americans can use to share, monitor and discuss the Health Care Reform law and other health care, insurance and related laws, regulations, policies and practices and options for promoting access to quality, affordable healthcare through the design, administration and enforcement of these regulations.

Other Helpful Resources & Other Information

We hope that this information is useful to you.   If you found these updates of interest, you also be interested in one or more of the following other recent articles published on the Coalition for Responsible Health Care Reform electronic publication available here, our electronic Solutions Law Press Health Care Update publication available here, or our HR & Benefits Update electronic publication available here .  You also can get access to information about how you can arrange for training on “Building Your Family’s Health Care Toolkit,”  using the “PlayForLife” resources to organize low-cost wellness programs in your workplace, school, church or other communities, and other process improvement, compliance and other training and other resources for health care providers, employers, health plans, community leaders and others here. If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail by creating or updating your profile here. You can reach other recent updates and other informative publications and resources.

Recent examples of these publications include:


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