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Income That May Lower SSDI Benefits

Approximately 60 million Americans currently receive some form of Social Security benefits, including more than 5 million who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI is a monthly benefit funded by Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes and used to help disabled workers meet their day-to-day living expenses. When SSDI recipients obtain other public disability, workers’ compensation benefits and employment income, it can affect the amount of SSDI for which the individual is eligible.

Income That Does Not Reduce SSDI Benefits

According to the Social Security Administration, private pension and insurance benefits do not affect SSDI payments. Payments such as Veterans Administration benefits, some state and local government benefits, unemployment benefits, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) do not reduce a person’s SSDI award. Settlements from court cases involving negligence or other tort actions, paid sick leave and payments from the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA), the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) or the Jones Acts claims are exempt as well.

Income That May Reduce or Eliminate SSDI Benefits

Public or government benefits that could potentially impact an SSDI award include:

  • Civil service disability benefits,
  • State temporary disability benefits,
  • State and local government retirement benefits
  • Workers’ compensation payments

The general rule is that these other benefits added to a SSDI payment cannot exceed 80% of a person’s average pre-disability earnings. If the collective income exceeds this percentage, SSDI benefits will only be reduced to the point that the benefits income will equal 80% of the worker’s pre-disability income.

In addition, income from work can in some cases lower SSDI payments. However, just because a disabled individual is working part-time (or temporarily full-time) does not mean SSDI benefits will end immediately. A person who is attempting to return to work full-time indefinitely may have some leeway to work substantially for a period of time before SSDI benefits end. Those who are only able to work part-time because of their disability can still receive SSDI benefits.

How work and other income affects SSDI can be complicated. Those wanting to return to work or with questions regarding their benefit amount should contact an attorney experienced with SSDI claims to ensure benefits are not disrupted or reduced.