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Sat Feb 8, 2014, 05:59 PM

Income limits for SSDI

I recently researched the income limits for a person getting SSDI. I found that any month of income over $770 for SSDI is considered a "trial month". Then monthly income over $1070 is considered "Substantial Gainful Activity" (SGA)


I noticed on another thread that SSDI isn't affected unless making over $1000 a month:


"Work is only an issue if you are working more then 30 hours a week or making more then $1000 a month."

Last year I initiated part-time employment and until this month I made under $770 a month. Until this month - I made closer to $900 - well over the $770 threshold but under the $1070 limit considered SGA. So my question is - have I triggered a trial work period by going over $770 this month?

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Arrow 10 replies Author Time Post
Reply Income limits for SSDI (Original post)
Lil Missy Feb 2014 OP
Control-Z Feb 2014 #1
PoliticAverse Feb 2014 #2
Lil Missy Feb 2014 #3
WhiteTara Feb 2014 #4
Lil Missy Feb 2014 #5
dixiegrrrrl Feb 2014 #6
happyslug Feb 2014 #7
Lil Missy Feb 2014 #8
happyslug Feb 2014 #9
Lil Missy Feb 2014 #10

Response to Lil Missy (Original post)

Sat Feb 8, 2014, 06:02 PM

1. Why don't you call

and ask?

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Response to PoliticAverse (Reply #2)

Sat Feb 8, 2014, 06:18 PM

3. Thank you!

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Response to Lil Missy (Original post)

Sat Feb 8, 2014, 06:24 PM

4. Are you working several months in a row?

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Response to WhiteTara (Reply #4)

Sat Feb 8, 2014, 06:29 PM

5. Yes, 6 or 7 months in a row now.

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Response to Lil Missy (Original post)

Sat Feb 8, 2014, 06:48 PM

6. Interestingly, you can collect more than that on SSDI

if your work earnings justify that.

So it does not make much sense to pick 1070, and esp. 700.

i suspect what that is about is that you are forced to work at 700.00 for more than 3 months, thus having a record of a
"work" quarter.
SSDI is based on your last work quarters...can't remember how many quarters. So if you earned good money at some point in your life, but then earned lower money the last 2 years you worked, the payments would be less.

I know that based on my long term work quarters I would have gotten a lot less in Soc. Sec. but fortunately I earned a much higher salary in the last year that I worked. So that is why the info about work quarters stuck with me.

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Response to Lil Missy (Original post)

Thu Feb 13, 2014, 04:51 PM

7. Are you on RSDI or SSI, when it comes to SSA, they is no such thing as SSDI


Retirement, Survivors, Disability Income, RSDI, is what Social Security calls not only Social Security Disability but also Social Security Retirement. This is paid for with Social Security Taxes,

Supplement Security Income, SSI, is for those people who are disabled as that term is defined in the RSDI program, but do NOT have sufficient time working to get RSDI. This is paid for by Income Taxes but run by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

In both programs, when it comes to the issue of you being disabled, you have the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) test. When SSA determines you are disabled, they is a five step Sequential process. Step one is the SGA test. If you are earning more then SGA, which is $1070 a month in 2014, you are NOT disabled and SSA does not look any further. If you are earning less then SGA you go onto the other tests (Which it appears you pass, so only the SGA test is relative here).

SGA tables:

Now, SSI has an additional test. SSI is more like a Welfare program then RSDI (which is more like an insurance program). As a welfare type program, when Congress set up SSI Congress said anyone eligible for SSI will have their SSI amount reduced by any other source of income. Dollar for Dollar if the other income is from NON-Earned income , and by the amount of earned income reduced by the $30 and a third rule for earned income.

The $30 and a 1/3 rule is the rule that any earned income is first reduced by $30, then 1/3 of the remaining is subtracted from the total income. Then what is left is used to reduce SSI dollar for dollar until the SSI reached Zero.

SSI is $721 a month in 2014, plus whatever state supplement your state agrees to pay. This a person on SSI but who is earning $1111 will up receiving no SSI for that month. $1111 less $30 is $1081. $1081 times .667 is $721. SSI is $721 less $721 equals zero.


I bring up SSI in your case for a lot of people confuse SSI with the Disability portion of RSDI. It appears that you exceed the SSI amount, and thus the reduction is SSI do to your income does NOT affect you, but I mention it if you are are on SSI

You seem to have been quoting me as to the $1000 rule, but as you can see that is a SSI rule NOT a RSDI rule.

In simple terms $1070 is a number that you can NOT go over if that is EARNED INCOME. Once over you are NOT disabled and thus NOT eligible for RSDI benefits. Remember also it is GROSS income that counts NOT take home pay. Thus if Gross pay is $1071, even if your take home pay is only $900, you are earning to much. Also remember this is EARNED income, income from any other source does not count.

Now after reading the actual Trial Work Period regulations, it appears what Social Security is shooting for is nine months in a 60 month period where you are earning more then the amount set forth in the regulations (The $770 you mention) even if the amount earned is less then SGA. When you have had nine months such months within a 60 month period, you are transferred to the "Extended Period of Eligibility" where for 36 months you get your full Social Security Check except in those months that you earn more then the SGA Level. SSA will also Expedite your application for benefits if you lose that job of other fall below SGA.

My understanding of the Trial Work Period is it must be pre approved by SSA, but that is NOT mentioned in the regulations.




In short, as long as you are below SGA, do not worry about the nine month trial work period. The real test remains SGA which is $1070 in 2014.

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Response to happyslug (Reply #7)

Thu Feb 13, 2014, 05:25 PM

8. Thank you for that very thorough response.

Last edited Thu Feb 13, 2014, 06:00 PM - Edit history (1)

By SSDI I am Social Security Disability Income, or what you call RSDI.

You have clarified the point I'm looking for. Basically, I want to avoid the 9 months of the trial period because I don't want to reach that 36 month "Extended Period of Eligibility". If I understand correctly, that means my RSDI would end after the 36 month period, regardless of whether I get Benefits some months and not others due to going over the $1070 threshold. I don't want that to happen.

Although, you do mention there is a 5 step process and that there are other tests after the trial period and SGA. Perhaps I wouldn't be automatically dropped after 36 months, assuming I don't make over the $1070 limit for 2014.

Some specifics in my case - I've worked part time for about 8 months now and February will be the first month I'll go over the $770 limit. It will still be under $1000 though. I've talked to my employer about not giving me so many hours but with my regular schedule now (which is fluid and can change quickly), I'll average around $900 a month gross.

I'll be 58 next month if that's of any use. It also occurs to me that it would likely take 4 years or more to move through 8 more months considered part of the "trial period" and then another 36 months after that. I'll be 62 then - close to getting SS Retirement. So I could be all concerned for nothing.

Thanks again for your very thorough response.

On Edit - I think I found the answer in an SSA link


It says:

"If you are not working above SGA and are eligible for a benefit payment for the 37th month of the EPE, you will continue to receive benefits until you:

•Work a month at the SGA level, or
•Medically recover."

So as you explained, I wouldn't have to worry about what happens after the 36 month Extended Period of Eligibility assuming I still stay under the SGA limit ($1070 for 2014). in other words, I won't automatically get dropped at month 37.

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

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Response to Lil Missy (Reply #8)

Thu Feb 13, 2014, 06:35 PM

9. The Five step test I mentioned is the test for disability.


Last edited Sat Feb 22, 2014, 04:48 AM - Edit history (3)

When someone applies for Disability, SSA goes through a five step process to determined if that person is disabled, That is the Five Step Sequential Evaluation Program I mentioned. You have already been through it once, for you are on disability.

Step one are you earning more then $1070 a month? If yes you are NOT disabled, if no you go to step two.

Step Two, Do you have a disability that affects your day to day living activities. Since you are on Disability, SSA has said YES to this question, which gets to step three

Step Three. Does your disability meet a listing? SSA has taken consideration of various disabilities, broke them down into 15 categories, each with anywhere from five to 20 subcategories known as a "Listing". This is the first step in the five step process you can win benefits by SSA ruling disabled. If you meet a listing, you are disabled, if not we go to Step Four.

Step Four. Can you return to past relative work, work of a full time nature that you can do today. Since you are on Disability you either won at Step Three, or SSA has ruled you can not return to past work (SSA only looks back at full time work AND only for the 15 years prior to the date you claim you became disabled OR if this is a review 15 years from the date of the review).

That takes us to Step Five, where your age, 58 comes into play. SSA has taken into consideration the aging process, unless you are ruled NOT disabled at Step One (Remember the $1070 SGA test), for the SSA to rule you NOT disabled at age 58 SSA has to show you can do "Medium Work" activity. "Light work Activity is the test for people between age 50 and 55, "Sedentary Work Activity" is the test below age 50.

Given you are 58, to be ruled disabled, SSA has to show you can do Medium Work. Medium Work is a job that requires you to be one your feet most of the time, lift up to 50 pounds occasionally, 25 pounds frequently. The classic Medium Job is a Cashier in a Food Store (NOT a Cashier in a restaurant, those are "Light Jobs".

In simple terms, unless you earn more then SGA for months on end, you will NOT be ruled "Not disabled" for SSA has to show that your present job can be done full time by you OR that they are other jobs of a Medium nature you can do.

Most review of disability are of people below age 50 for the simple reason it gets harder for SSA to rule someone NOT disabled over age 50. Thus unless your Income exceeds $1070 I would NOT worry about SSA ruling you no longer eligible for RSDI.

Side note: You are on RSDI, which is what you would get if you retire. You are 58, this is 2014, which means you were born in 1956 to get full benefit you must retire at age 66, four months NOT age 65:


This slow increase in age of retirement was one of the changes Reagan imposed when he "Reformed" Social Security in the early 1980s.

On the other hand since you are on RSDI, which is the SAME PROGRAM AS RETIREMENT, you are getting what you would get if you were over 66 years, Fours months today. You do NOT need to take early retirement at age 62 at a reduction in benefits, for you are all FULL RETIREMENT pay today.

It is rare for someone of your age to be determined to be able to work, unless you find a job that pays you over $1070 a month every month (and that it is competitive employment). In simple terms do NOT worry about it.

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Response to happyslug (Reply #9)

Thu Feb 13, 2014, 06:56 PM


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