What happens if I get caught working on SSDI?

Working on SSDI

Calculate Your Disability Benefit

I get calls more than I should about people having been caught working on SSDI (Social Security Disability). In every story, Social Security did not find out right away. They found out months if not years later. In every circumstance, that individual had to pay back all the money that they should not have received. That amount in most circumstances is tens of thousands of dollars.

Social Security Will Learn You Are Working on SSDI

Social Security will find out if you work, but in my experience, they won’t find out right away. Social Security’s failure to find out right away causes the amount you will owe to steadily grow month after month.

The best thing you can do is immediately notify the Administration that you are going back to work. They will more likely than not, help you find programs that you can get into. These programs will permit you to attempt to go back to work while not punishing you for trying to work and without putting your claim in a permanent non-pay status until you are certain that your attempt to work is successful.

Working on ssdi

Social Security Does Disability Reviews – Getting Caught Working On SSDI

Social Security finds out about work in various ways. Recently, the most common is through disability reviews. Disability recipients are routinely put through continuing reviews. The main reason that these are done is to make sure that recipients are still considered disabled as many ailments improve over time. When going through the review process an examiner will review a recipient’s medical records. Many times, medical records will have notes about the individual having gone back to work. If a note like this is discovered, the Administration will investigate.

Employer Reports – With few exceptions, most jobs report earnings to the Social Security Administration. If earnings are reported under your Social Security number, the Administration will know about it. Those earnings will eventually make it through the Administration and you will be flagged for earnings income while receiving disability benefits.

Third parties will tell on you. The Administration receives reports from third party ‘tips’ about disability beneficiaries working ‘under the table’ all the time. Scorned ex’s, upset neighbors, friends that got denied and are mad that you were approved call and tell the Social Security hotline about people working while on disability all the time. The Administration is required to investigate each of these reports. These investigations are the origin of the stories about people hiding in the bushes waiting to catch you.

If you plan on going back to work, let the Administration know. They will talk to you about income limits while on benefits. They will also work with you through their ticket to work program. The Administration wants you to go back to work and will do all that it can to help you be successful.


FAQ for Working On SSDI

What Happens If I Get Caught Working on SSDI?

While Social Security may not immediately discover if you're working, the delay in their knowledge can cause your owed amount to increase over time. It is crucial to promptly inform the Administration of your return to work to avoid complications. By notifying them, you're more likely to receive assistance and access programs that allow you to attempt work without jeopardizing your claim. Social Security typically learns about work through disability reviews, where medical records may reveal employment attempts. Additionally, employers regularly report earnings to the Administration, and third-party reports of individuals working while on disability are investigated. It is advisable to inform the Administration of your intention to work, as they can provide guidance on income limits and offer support through the ticket to work program, as they genuinely want to help you succeed in returning to employment.

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In 2023, you could be eligible for up to $3,627/month in SSDI benefits.

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February 9, 2023

Written by TC Newlin

TC is a disability litigator and one of the managing partners in the Social Security Disability Department at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin. He has had the pleasure of helping thousands of people obtain the benefits they so desperately need.


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