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How work activity can affect a disability benefits application

People in California who are unable to work because of their disabilities may apply for Social Security Disability benefits. However, in order for people to receive benefits, they must be assessed as having significant limitations that prevent them from engaging in work activities. The Social Security Administration determines if an applicant is sufficiently disabled to receive benefit by evaluating his or her current condition as well as work histories. A disability examiner - or, later, an administrative law judge - will give the applicant a residual functional capacity rating.

These ratings can apply to both mental and physical capacities. However, it is important for applicants for SSD benefits to show that they cannot support themselves by gainfully working. Therefore, people who are still working for a salary and make above the SSA's monthly earnings limit will receive a denial of their claims, even if they have significant disabilities. When a case is denied for this reason, the applicant's level of disability is never assessed. The 2019 monthly earnings limit is $1220.00 gross income before taxes, but it can change as a result of inflation.

In order for the SSA to consider an applicant disabled, he or she must be unable to work at a level of substantial gainful activity. This means that even severely injured or ill people making over this amount, even through part-time work, will face an automatic denial. If those applicants later lose their jobs or are unable to continue activities at their current level, they can apply again for disability benefits to move forward in the process.

This limitation also applies to people who seek out work to supplement their disability benefits. A disability attorney can provide advice and guidance on work limitations and how they can affect a person's ability to receive Social Security Disability benefits.

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