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Should I Apply for Social Security Disability or Work Part-Time?

Financial decisions can be complex, and you may find yourself at a crossroads when faced with the choice between waiting for disability benefits to kick in and part-time work.

Working some proves to the Social Security Administration that you are able to work which can harm an application for disability. Not working at all could leave you short on funds to live.

The amount you pay in working impacts the amount you can be eligible to receive under Social Security Disability (“SSDI”).  This dilemma becomes even more critical when considering the potential dangers of losing insured status with Social Security due to insufficient contributions or lower potential contributions (ie. working some but not enough to receive a work credit from Social Security; working at a lower income rate that could lower your potential monthly benefits over time).

Understanding the Dangers

Maintaining insured status with Social Security is a crucial factor in securing disability benefits. Social Security contributions are directly linked to your insured status and, consequently, eligibility for disability benefits.  The danger lies in working some but not enough to maintain your insured status (ie. eligibility to apply for disability).

In 2023, you need $1,640 in wages or self-employment to earn 1 credit.  Depending on your age, how many credits you need.  But, generally you need 40 credits of which 20 must be earned in the last 10 years to be eligible to apply for disability. Working part-time and falling short on contributions may jeopardize your eligibility to apply for disability benefits.   Insufficient or lower contributions can impact access to disability benefits in the future and lower the potential benefit amount.

Disability Benefits: Pros and Cons

Disability benefits are a safety net designed to provide financial support for individuals unable to work due to debilitating medical conditions. Understanding the structure of these benefits is helpful for those evaluating their options.


1. Financial support for those unable to work due to approved medical conditions.

Disability benefits offer a financial lifeline for individuals facing health challenges that make “gainful” employment impossible. This support is especially critical when traditional sources of income are disrupted.

2. Payments of full benefits.

One advantage of disability benefits is the receipt of financial support until reaching the full retirement age.  You receive your full retirement at an earlier age, ensuring a more stable income stream over a long period of time.

Normally, if you apply for retirement at early retirement, then there are reductions in the amount of your monthly retirement benefit.  If you are disabled, no age reduction factors apply.

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C. Cons

1. Disability eligibility criteria.

Qualifying for disability benefits involves meeting specific disability criteria related to the severity of your medical condition. The application process can be complex, requiring comprehensive documentation to support your medical disability claim.

2. Complex application process and potential delays.

The process of applying for disability benefits can be intricate, involving thorough medical documentation and potentially lengthy waiting periods for approval. This complexity can be a significant drawback if you are in need of financial assistance quickly.  It also can take 3 months to over 2 years to complete the disability process, if you are denied and have to keep appealing.

Part-Time Work

Part-time work provides an alternative to full-time employment, which allows you to maintain a connection to the workforce while addressing your health concerns. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of this option is helpful in making an informed decision.

One of the primary advantages of working part-time is the ability to have some income coming in while you are not able to work full-time.  Part-time work allows you to stay engaged in the workforce, fostering a sense of purpose and routine that can positively impact your overall well-being.

Securing part-time employment that aligns with health restrictions and financial needs can be challenging.  The job market may not always offer opportunities that accommodate specific circumstances like yours.

Part-time work comes with a reduction in income compared to full-time employment. This can pose challenges and will require careful budgeting.   It also could endanger your insured status with Social Security if you are not earning enough working part-time to be considered “gainfully” employed.

Assessing Your Situation

Understanding how your health impacts your ability to work is essential to determining the most suitable path forward.

Considering the financial implications of part-time work involves evaluating potential income, factoring in Social Security contributions, and assessing whether this income is sufficient enough to meet your needs and financial obligations.

The Importance of Social Security Contributions

Understanding the direct link between Social Security contributions and insured status sheds light on the significance of maintaining consistent contributions to secure future benefits.

Calculating the impact of your current and potential future contributions aids in accurately estimating the level of financial support you may be eligible for in the event of a disability. This involves considering various scenarios and planning accordingly.

Consulting with financial advisors or Social Security experts can provide valuable insights into optimizing your contribution strategy. Professional guidance can help navigate the complexities of Social Security and ensure your contributions align with your long-term financial goals.

Making an Informed Decision

Weighing the pros and cons based on individual circumstances.

An informed decision requires a thoughtful consideration of the pros and cons of disability benefits and part-time work in the context of your unique situation. Prioritize factors such as health, financial stability, and long-term goals in this evaluation.

Considering the potential impact on financial stability and overall well-being.

The chosen path should align with your broader financial stability goals and contribute to your overall well-being. Balancing immediate needs with long-term considerations is key to making the right long-term choice.

C. Recognizing the significance of maintaining insured status with Social Security

Emphasizing the importance of insured status with Social Security reinforces the need to make decisions that safeguard your future access to disability benefits. This recognition should guide your choices to ensure a secure financial future.

Seeking Professional Guidance

Financial advisors and attorneys who have experience in Social Security matters play an essential role in providing guidance tailored to your specific circumstances. Their understanding of the process can help you navigate the complexities of this important decision-making process.

Experienced legal advice can be invaluable, especially when appealing a denial for disability benefits. An SSDI attorney can provide assistance in ensuring all necessary documentation is in order and submitted to SSA quickly.

Taking advantage of available resources, such as online tools, informational materials, and community support, can further enhance your understanding of the options and empower you to make informed decisions about what is best for your financial future.

When deciding between disability benefits and part-time work, the importance of maintaining insured status with Social Security cannot be overstated. The complexities of this decision require careful consideration of individual health, financial circumstances, and long-term goals. By weighing the pros and cons, seeking legal guidance, and recognizing the significance of Social Security contributions, you can make informed choices that pave the way for a secure financial future.

We know the decision you make today has far-reaching implications. We want to help you approach it with the diligence it deserves. If you are facing an SSDI appeals process, contact Arthur Law Firm (419) 782-9881 right away for a free consultation. We can help you through this process to help you secure your disability benefits.