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Stephanie O Joy, Esq
Stephanie O Joy, Esq, Soc. Sec. Attorney
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 13388
Experience:  19+ years legal exp. - 10+ years owning/operating her own SSD Law practice.
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I am disabled and receive SSDI. I recently received a letter

Customer Question

I am disabled and receive SSDI. I recently received a letter from SSA asking me about self-employment in 2013 and 2014. They are asking for my monthly income and if I worked 45 hours or more in a given month. In 2 separate months, over the course of 10 months, I did work over 45 hours. Does that pose a problem with regard to my benefits?
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  Rick Martin replied 4 months ago.

Hi, I'm happy to answer your question. I kindly ask that you give me a good rating at the end if you are happy with my service. My 5 star rating is very important to me. I'm developing your answer now. -Rick

Customer: replied 4 months ago.

Thanks.

Expert:  Rick Martin replied 4 months ago.

As a general rule, self-employed workers may work up to 45 hours per month and still be eligible for disability benefits. How do you know for sure you worked more than 45 hours, do you bill by the hour?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.

I did bill by the hour. I have records of when I billed and the amount. I just divided the amount by the hours worked.

Expert:  Rick Martin replied 4 months ago.

Are they challenging your income as well, or just the hours? Are you the only employee?

Expert:  Rick Martin replied 4 months ago.

Below is a link to the actual law. About half way down, at (iii)(b)(1) it stipulates that 45 hours is the maximum you can work in a given month.

There are two possible outcomes. They might say that you are denied benefits for those two months and let you move on, or, they could say that starting in the month you worked over 45 hours, you were no longer qualified to receive benefits and must reapply. It is in your favor that since then you have consistently worked less than 45 hours per month. You should take the position that additional services needed to be performed in those months in order to sustain the business.

https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/cfr20/404/404-1575.htm

Customer: replied 4 months ago.

Does it matter that I had to stop working due to my disability?

Expert:  Rick Martin replied 4 months ago.

The only thing that matters is that once you are disability for whatever reason, you must remain eligible. Working more than 45 hours in a given month will cause you to be ineligible. They can deny benefits for those two months.

Expert:  Rick Martin replied 4 months ago.

Thank you for this opportunity to serve you. I kindly ask that you give me a good rating if you are happy with my service. My 5 star rating is very important to me. Have a good day. I will remain online in case you have any follow on questions. -Rick

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Expert:  Rick Martin replied 4 months ago.

Not sure where all those characters came from. -Rick

Customer: replied 4 months ago.

Try this. “If your business involves the services of more than one person, we will consider you to be rendering significant services if you contribute more than half the total time required for the management of the business, or you render management services for more than 45 hours a month regardless of the total management time required by the business." What do they mean by management time. I was the sole employee. All I did management wise was to turn in a time sheet.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 4 months ago.

Hi, my name is***** and I am here to assist you. I am a social security attorney in my private practice – that is ALL I do. Please let me know that my post here is coming through for you by typing a quick reply.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 4 months ago.

Working SGA after being found disabled, is an extremely complicated area and entirely case specific with many non-bright line rules. Even us SSD attorneys have to engage in painstaking review to come to likely conclusions so a quicky answer will not be useful to you. That said, we can go over some useful rules and regs that will be necessary for you to review, if you would like. Let me know!

Customer: replied 4 months ago.

Definitely.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 4 months ago.

How long have you been collecting SSDIB benefits?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.

About 11 years.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.

Are we still connected?

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 4 months ago.

Yes, I am just gathering something, printed it and look at the sections. It is this:

https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/cfr20/404/404-1575.htm

Customer: replied 4 months ago.

I have it.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 4 months ago.

I think you got your language there. Please just bare with me - I am wearing 3 hats, lol.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.

OK.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 4 months ago.

It looks like section (e) applies to you. Did you come to that conclusion?

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 4 months ago.

Because you have been collecting for at least 24 months.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 4 months ago.

Are you there?

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 4 months ago.

OK, you may have left, which is fine! I will be running out but I will check back with you.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.

I'm still here! I replied: I am mostly concerned about section (b). "What we mean by significant services." The 45 hour test could torpedo my benefits(?).

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 4 months ago.

Significant services test only applies if you blow the countable income test. Do you know if you blow the CI test?

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 4 months ago.

And 45 hours only applies to you if your business involves services of MORE than one person. If you operate your business entirely by yourself, then any of your services are 'significant.'

Customer: replied 4 months ago.

That's what I've been trying to make of the gobbledegook. So if it was just me I don't have to worry about having worked more that 45 hours?

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 4 months ago.

That is my read, yes. By its very language, if you are self employed.

BUT, let's go back, OK?

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 4 months ago.

Did you determine the countable income test for the months they are talking about?

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 4 months ago.

Significant services applies if you FAIL that test (i.e. made too much).

And if significant services applies, they as a solo, the language indicates your work IS significant service.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 4 months ago.

We read it that if you are not less than 24 months into SSDIB benefits (i.e. if you are longer term), you have the countable income test.... "We will not consider the services you perform in that work to determine that the work you are doing shows that you are able to engage in substantial gainful activity and are therefore no longer disabled."

Customer: replied 4 months ago.

OK. So (b)(1) is kind of a moot point?

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 4 months ago.

No, ONLY moot if you don't violate the countable income test.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 4 months ago.

Go through (e), were (1) says the above. Then it tells you to do the CI test, found in (e)(3). But you must look to (c)(1) to see what "countable income" is.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 4 months ago.

Then back to (e)(3)... Once you know your average monthly CI, if it is "equal or less than the amounts in(###) ###-####b)(2) for the months in which you work... we will consider that your work as a self employed person shows that you have not engaged in substantial gainful activity".

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 4 months ago.

So you MUST look at your months of income for the time period in question. Then move on from there.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 4 months ago.

I have to leave. I'll check back.