I get asked a lot about NC disability and part-time work. Basically, the question is “Can I get on Social Security disability while I’m working part-time?” People want a simple “Yes” or “No” answer to the question but I can’t give a simple answer because it’s complicated.
In theory NC disability and part-time work go together as long as you’re not making more than about $1,000 per month. That’s the theory. Let’s talk about the real world which is a lot more complicated. First, if you’re working any, it can impact your Social Security disability claim. The people who make decisions on Social Security disability claims are, well, people, and when they make decisions sometimes people are influenced by things that aren’t supposed to influence them. There are a lot of people who work at Social Security who think that if you can work any, that you can work full-time and shouldn’t be approved for disability benefits.
Second, attempts to combine NC disability and part-time work by making just under enough to be disqualified usually end in failure. People think that the $1,000 figure is take home pay rather than gross pay before taxes or they forget that some months have more paydays than others. Also, how does it look to Social Security if they ask you whether you could be working more and you tell them that you are trying to hold your income down so you can qualify for benefits?
Things get complicated in the other direction as well when people try to combine NC disability and part-time work. They work enough to disqualify them from getting on Social Security disability but end up with no problem since they last only a short time on a job. It does not matter how much you earn — if you take a job and have to quit it after a few weeks, it does not hurt your disability claim. If anything it may help since it shows that you wanted to work but just couldn’t handle it.
I haven’t finished with the complications when people try to combine NC disability and part-time work. There is the trial work period which allows people to work and draw full disability benefits — as long as they are out of work for a year first and file their Social Security disability claim first. And there’s something called “Ticket to Work” that’s supposed to help you return to work after you get on Social Security disability.
In the end, if you want to try to combine NC disability and part-time work, my advice is to work as much as you can. Usually, people don’t last long enough to hurt their claims. Even if you do hurt your claim, you’re better off working. Just don’t ask me to tell you that there is some way you can work and be assured that there will be absolutely no effect on your Social Security disability claim because I cannot give you that assurance.