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Disability benefits may be possible even with part-time work

Readers of this disability blog know that the Social Security Administration defines a disability as a condition that prevents an individual from working. But does that mean that a disabled worker can’t perform any activity for compensation?

According to the SSA’s requirements, a minimal amount of money earned each month will not disqualify an otherwise eligible individual from disability benefits. In 2014, that monthly ceiling is $1,070.  

Of course, other benefits programs may have their own requirements. In New York, a person who qualifies for Social Security disability insurance payments may also qualify for Medicare, although the latter imposes a two-year waiting period from the date that a person’s disability began. For low-income disability applicants, qualifying for Supplemental Security Income automatically enrolls an individual in Medicaid. New York is one of those states where the SSA handles Medicaid enrollment.

A recent article provides context. A nurse had been injured on the job and was receiving temporary total disability benefits from her former employer’s workers’ compensation policy. When she started helping her daughters at the family’s flower shop, her former employer raised a question about her continued eligibility for TTD benefits. In finding that the nurse was still eligible, the reviewing court focused on the nurse’s functional impairment, which hadn’t improved.

Indeed, functionality is a primary avenue of inquiry when applying for SSDI benefits. Whereas a diagnosis may help frame the context of an applicant’s condition, a disability examiner will want evidence of how a particular condition impacts an individual’s ability to work and his or her capacity for earning more than a minimal amount of money each month.

Source: Business Insurance, “Flower shop work doesn't preclude disability benefits for Illinois nurse,” Stephanie Goldberg, July 1, 2014

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