How Much Can I Earn While On Social Security Disability In 2022?

The prices consumers pay for groceries and other essential goods have dramatically risen due to inflation. For someone who is disabled and receiving monthly Social Security disability benefits, earnings from a part-time job may be necessary to make ends meet. 

The Social Security Administration increased SSD benefits as of the beginning of 2022 through a cost-of-living adjustment of 5.9%. The COLA increase to Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance benefits also increased income eligibility standards making it possible to earn more while receiving disability benefits through SSDI and SSI.

As you read through this explanation of changes to SSD benefits for 2022, pay close attention to new limits on the amount of income you may earn before jeopardizing your eligibility for a continuation of benefits. Remember that a Social Security disability lawyer at Liner Legal Disability Lawyers is available to respond to your questions and concerns about disability benefits and provide skilled representation in all SSDI and SSI matters, including applications and appeals.

Benefits increased in 2022

SSDI and SSI benefits increased as of January 1, 2022. Recipients of SSI benefits saw the maximum federal benefit increase to $841 for individuals and $1,261 for couples where both spouses qualify for SSI. What you actually receive each month may be less than the maximum benefit if you have income from sources other than SSI. It could be more if you live in one of the states that supplements the federal SSI benefit for its eligible residents.

Monthly SSDI payments also increased by 5.9% for 2022. The payment that you receive each month depends, of course, on your average lifetime earnings that Social Security uses to calculate your actual monthly benefit.

How much can you earn in 2022 while receiving SSD?

You must be disabled to qualify for SSD benefits. Social Security follows federal law. The law defines “disabled” as being unable to engage in substantial gainful activity as a result of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments that has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or is expected to cause death.

Social Security applies a monthly earnings test to determine whether someone is engaging in substantial gainful activity. If your monthly income from working at a job or through self-employment is at least $1,350, you are engaging in substantial gainful activity and do not meet the definition as being disabled. This represents an increase over the 2021 earnings limit, which was $1,310 a month.

If you cannot work because you are blind, the income limit in 2022 is $2,260 a month, which surpasses the 2021 limit of $2,190. An SSDI lawyer can review your claim for benefits to determine whether you exceed income limits.

Income changes to trial work periods and extended eligibility

SSDI recipients who fear losing their benefits if they attempt a return to work may avoid a loss of benefits through a trial work period. You must notify Social Security that you want to try working under a trial work period, which is nine months. The nine months need not be consecutive, but they must be used within a 60-month period.

Any month that you earn more than $970 during 2022 is considered as a trial work month. This is a $30 increase from what the income threshold was in 2021.

During a trial work period, your earnings will not affect your SSDI eligibility even if they exceed the substantial gainful activity limit. At the conclusion of a trial work period, you may continue working under an extended period of eligibility that can be for as long as 36 months following the end of a trial work period.

If you earn in excess of the substantial gainful activity amount that causes your SSDI benefits to stop, you may reinstate them should your earnings stop or be reduced because of your disability. As long as it occurs during the period of extended eligibility you need only notify Social Security of the change in your earnings to get the benefits reinstated. There is no need to file a new application.

Earnings exclusion increases for students receiving SSI

If you receive SSI and work, the income normally reduces the amount of your monthly benefits. As a blind or disabled student who qualifies for SSI benefits, you may exclude all or some of the income that you earn each month to avoid having it reduce your benefits.

Students on SSI may exclude up to $2,040 a month in earnings for 2022, which is an increase from the 2021 exclusion of $1,930. The annual cap on excluded earnings increased for 2022 to $8,230, which is considerably more than the $7,770 maximum annual exclusion in 2021.

To be eligible for the student earnings exclusion, you must meet each of the following requirements:

  1. Be younger than 22 years of age.
  2. Have a disability or be blind according to SSI definitions.
  3. Be a student regularly attending school, university, college or be enrolled in vocational training.

Ask an SSI lawyer to review your benefits to determine if you qualify for a student earnings exclusion.

Learn more about changes to SSDI and SSI for 2022

An SSD lawyer at Liner Legal Disability Lawyers makes it easy for you to know about changes to SSI and SSDI earnings limits and other regulations affecting Social Security disability programs. Contact us today for a free consultation.