Working While Waiting for Disability Benefits
It’s common practice for the average person to complain about having to go to work. Of course, when something happens that prevents us from doing so, we realize that having a job did wonders in keeping us sane. Unfortunately, when a person becomes physically or mentally disabled, filing for social security disability benefits is one of their only options for income. Veterans, however, who have spent considerable time serving our country, may get a bit antsy waiting for benefits to come through. Some individuals, veterans or not, choose to work while waiting for benefits, but there are a few things they should know before doing this.
Though many people complain about how governmental systems like the Social Security Administration (SSA) work, there are actually a few very legitimate reasons as to why a person may be in a waiting list for disability benefits for so long. Upon its inception, the program was created with several mechanisms to reduce fraud. This included the need for applicants to turn in several pieces of documentation verifying their disability. These mechanisms are so stringent, in fact, that most applicants are denied on their first try.
Waiting lists can vary by state, but the average waiting period in Arizona, 316 days, is a good example of how long a person may be waiting for benefits. In fact, the SSA won’t even begin payouts for a disabled person until five months after their disability started, and this is the least amount of time a person will be waiting.
Waiting For Disability
The SSA does allow those applying for disability to work while they’re awaiting benefits. This is understandable considering how long benefits may take to process. They very often look at what they call “substantial gainful activity” levels. If a person makes over a certain amount during the month while working, the SSA will consider them gainfully employed and not in need of benefits. For 2013, this level is $1,040 a month.
Some disability cases, such as liver transplants, automatically entitle a person to disability benefits. For disabilities that aren’t as cut and dry, however, it’s important for a person to be careful in the type of work that they choose to do. SSA officials will quickly deny a person, even if they are making less than the $1,040 mark, if they think that they’re able to perform meaningful work. In a nutshell, those applying for benefits should likely refrain from working if they can manage.
A person who is denied benefits can ask for an automatic reconsideration on their claim. Sadly, those who are denied aren’t often given very good reasons for their denial. Usually, however, it’s because they didn’t properly document their disability. Unfortunately, if a person cannot come up with additional evidence for their disability, their reconsideration is likely to face the same negative decision.
The smartest thing to do after a denial is to seek the services of a legal professional. After a second denial, a person’s next step is to seek an administrative court hearing. It’s important for them to be prepared when this occurs. Having an attorney at one’s side highly increases the chances that a person’s disability benefits will be approved, and this is true even after an initial denial.
While it’s not totally unheard of for a person to work while they’re waiting for their disability benefits to be approved, it’s important that they be careful about it. Making the wrong move can result in a quick denial of benefits, and this is even the case when the work in question isn’t doing much to handle all of a person’s bills. Knowing what type of work is acceptable and what to do if benefits are denied are two of the most important things that any disability applicant could know.