How many hours can you work if you are on disability?

Navigating the world of work while on disability can be a complex and challenging journey. Many individuals who receive disability benefits are eager to regain a sense of normalcy and financial independence by returning to work, even if only on a part-time basis. However, the rules surrounding work and disability benefits can be confusing. In this article, we’ll explore how many hours you can work if you are on disability, considering different types of disability programs in the United States.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program in the United States that provides financial assistance to individuals who are unable to work due to a disabling condition. The key feature of SSDI is that it is intended for those who are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines SGA as earning a certain amount of money per month, which is adjusted annually. In 2021, the threshold was $1,310 per month for non-blind individuals and $2,190 for blind individuals.

So, how many hours can you work if you are on SSDI? The SSA does not explicitly limit the number of hours you can work. Instead, they focus on the income you earn. If your earnings consistently exceed the SGA threshold, your disability benefits may be affected.

For example, if you work part-time and your earnings are less than the SGA threshold, you can continue to receive SSDI benefits. However, if you consistently earn more than the SGA threshold, your benefits may be reduced or terminated.

It’s important to note that SSDI recipients have access to a trial work period (TWP) during which they can test their ability to work without jeopardizing their benefits. In 2021, any month in which you earn more than $940 counts as a TWP service month. Once you have used up your nine TWP service months, your benefits may be affected if you continue to earn over the SGA threshold.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is another federal program that provides financial assistance to disabled individuals with limited income and resources. The rules regarding work and SSI are different from those of SSDI.

If you are receiving SSI, the Social Security Administration allows you to work while still receiving benefits. The first $85 of your monthly earnings is not counted, and only half of the remaining earnings are counted as income. So, you can work part-time and still receive SSI benefits, but your earnings will affect the amount of your monthly SSI payment.

Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs)

Whether you’re on SSDI or SSI, it’s crucial to be aware of Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs). The SSA periodically reviews your case to determine if you are still eligible for disability benefits. During these reviews, they assess whether you have had medical improvement, whether your condition has improved to the point where you can engage in SGA, or if your work activity has changed.

It’s essential to report any changes in your work activity or income to the SSA to avoid potential overpayments and legal issues.

State Disability Programs

In addition to federal disability programs, some states offer their disability assistance programs. The rules and regulations for these programs can vary widely, so it’s essential to understand the specific guidelines for your state.


The question of how many hours you can work while on disability depends largely on the type of disability benefits you receive. SSDI and SSI have different rules and income thresholds that determine how your work affects your benefits.

If you are receiving disability benefits and considering returning to work, it’s highly advisable to consult with a benefits counselor or attorney who specializes in disability law. They can provide you with guidance tailored to your specific situation and help you navigate the complex rules surrounding work and disability benefits, ensuring that you continue to receive the support you need while exploring your potential for employment and financial independence.

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