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Can people receive SSI benefits while still working?

Many disabled or blind Tennessee residents depend upon the benefits they receive through the Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income programs. Some people who are receiving these benefits may wonder if they are allowed to hold down a job on a part-time basis while continuing to receive the benefits.

The answer is yes. Social Security has incentive programs to encourage benefits recipients to work. However, the rules over this kind of work are somewhat complicated.

While these programs have similar goals, there are key differences between them. Social Security Disability benefits are mainly for disabled adults who are not able to work because of their disability. These benefits work something like an insurance policy, in that the money for the program comes from workers' contributions to a trust fund. SSI benefits are intended for disabled children and adults who have limited income and resources. The money for this program comes from the general tax fund.

Special rules allow people receiving benefits under either program to work while they are receiving monthly payments. These are known as incentives because the government wants to encourage people receiving these benefits to be able to earn money on their own and draw less money from the pools that fund the programs. In keeping with this policy, benefits recipients who also work will see the dollar amount of their benefits reduced in relation to their work income.

For SSDI benefits recipients, there may also be other factors known as "special conditions" and "subsidies" related to their work that can reduce the dollar amount of benefits. For SSI recipients these are not issues.

While many of the people receiving these benefits are doing so because they can't work at all, many people who receive the benefits are willing and able to perform at least some work, but are not able to hold down a full-time job that will help them to fully support themselves. Tennessee attorneys with experience in Social Security Disability Insurance matters can help these people to understand how the system can work for them.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Work Incentives -- General Information," accessed Feb. 20, 2015

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