For those who cannot work at their jobs because of a medical condition, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides monthly financial benefits. Unfortunately, the amount you can be paid is not meant to be a replacement for the salary of your previous job. This prompts many Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients to seek work to increase their income. Doing so, however, might cause you problems with the SSA. Read on to find out more about how using impairment-related work expenses (IRWE) might help you keep your SSA benefits.
SSDI Income Limits
You might be permitted to earn some additional income as long as you stick to the SSA rules. One important rule concerns income limits. The SSA refers to the amount of money you can earn and how you earn it as substantial gainful activity (SGA). You must report all income earned to the SSA and you risk losing your benefits if you go over the SGA limit.
The SSA does not necessarily discourage recipients from working and earning extra income. As long as you abide by the rules, it's encouraged. One of the ways that the SSA helps those who work is to allow them to take certain deductions from their income. These deductions are known as impairment-related work expenses (IRWE). If you need special services, devices, support, or other accommodations in order to work at your job, you can deduct that expense from your income. Even if the resources are used in your home, they can count to reduce your income. The SSA requires that the IRWE are related using these factors:
1. The item or service is needed to attend to your job.
2. The item or service is directly related to your specific medical condition or disability.
3. You are not being reimbursed for the item or service through other government agencies or using private insurance.
4. The cost of the item or service is reasonable and does not exceed the local average.
Examples of Some IRWE
- Transportation to and from a job.
- Modifications to vehicles that allow riding or driving to and from work (such as chairlifts and special pedals).
- Modifications to your home that make access to and from easier, such as railings and ramps at the entrances.
- Goods like walkers, braces, wheelchairs, etc.
- The services of a care attendant to help you get dressed for work.
It's very easy to run afoul of SSA rules when it comes to SGA. If you find your benefits cut off, speak to a Social Security attorney like Deborah Maury as soon as possible about representing you at your appeal hearing.