Woman working in office SSDI If your spouse has applied for or is receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you can continue to work while your spouse receives SSDI benefits. Your income will not affect their benefits. However, it's important to understand SSDI eligibility and seek the advice of an experienced SSDI lawyer if you have any questions or concerns.

SSDI Eligibility Requirements

SSDI is a federal program that provides financial support to people who are unable to work due to a disability. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have worked long enough and recently enough to earn sufficient credits. You must also have a medical condition that meets the Social Security Administration's (SSA) definition of a disability, which is a condition that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death, and prevents you from doing any substantial gainful activity (SGA). 

SGA is defined as earning more than a certain amount of money per month from working. In 2023, the substantial gainful activity amount for SSDI is $1,470 per month. This amount is updated annually. If you earn more than the SGA amount, the SSA will consider you to be engaged in substantial gainful activity and will likely find that you are not eligible for SSDI benefits.

In addition, you will typically need 40 work credits to be eligible for SSDI, but this number can vary based on age. Workers can earn up to four credits per year. The dollar amount changes year-to-year. In 2023, you need to earn $1,640 in income to earn one credit. Thus, $6,560 in 2023 equals four work credits. A lawyer can determine if you have earned enough work credits to qualify. 

Having more than one condition does not mean you get more benefits. But, the SSA does consider compounding factors. The combined impact of your disabilities may qualify you for SSDI. Past income does not impact eligibility. You will need to provide medical evidence regarding your condition and to prove that you have a qualifying disability that prevents you from working. You must meet all of the required criteria for SSDI to ensure your claim is not denied.

Household Income and SSDI Eligibility

It's important to note that household income is not one of the factors considered in SSDI eligibility. This means that your income as a spouse will not affect your spouse's eligibility for SSDI benefits. Your spouse's eligibility is based solely on their own work history and medical condition.

However, SSDI eligibility can be confusing, and there may be situations where your income could affect your spouse's benefits. For example, if you or your spouse are applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, the income of both you and your spouse will be taken into consideration. Since SSI is a needs-based program designed for disabled individuals with low income, your spouse's income is crucial in determining the applicant's eligibility. If your spouse is applying for SSI and your income exceeds a specific amount, a portion of that income may be deemed available to the applicant by the SSA.

In addition, a child under the age of 16 may qualify for auxiliary benefits based on the SSDI eligibility of your spouse. In this case, your income could affect the amount of auxiliary benefits your child receives.

Contact an Attorney to Find Out More

If you have any questions or concerns about SSDI eligibility or how your income may affect your spouse's benefits, it's a good idea to consult with an experienced SSDI lawyer. An SSDI lawyer can do the following:

  • Help you understand the eligibility requirements
  • Determine your spouse's benefit amount
  • Answer any questions you may have about working while your spouse receives SSDI benefits

With the help of an SSDI lawyer, you can ensure that your spouse receives the benefits they are entitled to and that you are able to work and support your family without any negative impact on your spouse's benefits.

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