Woman Paintng a Piece of PotteryYour medical condition prevents you from working. While your daily activities have changed significantly, you still have a hobby that you enjoy. Perhaps you enjoy crafts that you can do from the comfort of your home, maybe you are a gifted graphic designer and you can do a few projects at a time, or maybe you have a knack for fixing broken appliances.

You can’t turn your hobby into a steady income because of your disability, but can you sell your goods or services on the side and earn a little money.

How Much Money You Can Earn While Receiving Social Security Disability

Typically, the Social Security Administration does not consider your hobbies when determining whether you can work. However, if you get paid for what you consider to be a hobby, then your hobby is relevant in the Social Security disability eligibility or continued disability eligibility determination.

The Social Security Administration must find that you are completely disabled and unable to support yourself by working before it begins sending you Social Security disability benefits.

More specifically, the Social Security Administration must find that you are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity.

The amount that you can earn and still qualify for Social Security disability benefits changes annually. For example, in 2020, substantial gainful activity, or the amount that you could earn and still qualify for benefits, was set at $1,260 per month for non-blind Social Security disability recipients and $2,110 per month for blind Social Security disability recipients.

If you want to make money at your hobby, however, it is not enough to make sure that your earnings are below the substantial gainful activity threshold. While you can’t make more than the substantial gainful activity amount, you need to be careful that the Social Security Administration doesn’t think that you are purposefully holding back on earning an income so that you remain eligible for disability benefits.

In making its determination, the Social Security Administration may consider things such as:

  • The circumstances under which you did the work. These circumstances could include but aren’t limited to whether you did the work at home and any special accommodations that you had at home to make doing the work easier.
  • Your “work” hours. If you work on your hobby during non-traditional work hours or require frequent breaks, then you may not be able to go back to work even if you can make some money with your hobby.
  • Special assistance you receive at home. Are you able to complete all of the work that it takes to make money at your hobby independently, or are other people involved in the making, advertising, selling, and managing of the endeavor?

The Social Security Administration should consider all of the information that you provide when determining whether you can work and whether you are disabled.

Is the Benefit of Earning Money Worth Risking SSDI Benefits?

You, like many other Social Security disability recipients, may have trouble making ends meet with just your monthly disability payments and existing assets. Additionally, or alternatively, you may suffer emotionally if you are not working. Part-time self-employment from home doing a hobby that you enjoy may be just the answer for you.

If you choose to pursue earning an income from your hobby and receive Social Security disability benefits, then we encourage you to make sure that all of your rights are protected. Our experienced Metro Boston Social Security disability lawyers are here to help you. We want you to lead the most fulfilling life that you can. If earning money from a hobby is part of your plan, then let’s talk about how you can do that without jeopardizing the fair Social Security disability benefits that you’ve earned during your years of work.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Natick, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 508.283.5500 to schedule your free consultation.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer