Your rent or mortgage, grocery bills, and prescription drugs cost about the same amount each and every month. They are predictable. You can budget for them.
Other expenses pop up out of nowhere and surprise you. You get injured or sick and need extra care. Something breaks down that you need to fix or replace. Your pet needs emergency veterinary care. The Seelig Law Offices knows that for New Yorkers who are on Social Security Disability (SSD), these unexpected expenses can be a big challenge.
Many of our Manhattan clients on disability wonder if they can get additional funds to pay out-of-the-ordinary bills, or if it is okay to use disability benefits they have managed to save up to pay these costs.
First, the good news. You can use your Social Security Disability benefits however you would like. Once the money is in your account, it is yours to do with as you wish. There are no rules limiting your ability to spend the money any way you see fit.
The bad news is that there are very few ways to increase the amount of money you have coming in each month, even if you are facing an emergency and need some additional cash to make ends meet.
Your Social Security Disability payments are based on the average amount of money you earned before you became disabled. The Social Security or FICA taxes withheld from your paycheck, or the self-employment taxes you paid, are used to calculate your disability benefits. There’s no way to travel back in time and make more money so you can collect more benefits now.
The only way to get more money to pay surprise expenses is to earn it. But if you are on disability, you are, by definition, not able to work enough to support yourself. If you were well enough to work, your SSD benefits would be terminated. Getting even a part-time job to help you pay for unexpected expenses can put your SSD benefits in jeopardy.
There are two reasons your benefits are at risk if you get a job.
First, working even a little bit may show that you are well enough to hold down a job and no longer qualify for disability benefits. Only people who cannot work to support themselves qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.
Second, the Social Security Administration has a certain dollar amount it considers “Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).” If you earn more than the SGA, your SSD benefits will be cut because the bureaucrats think you can earn enough to support yourself. It doesn’t matter to them that New York, and Manhattan in particular, is one of the most expensive places to live in the entire world.
If you have questions about qualifying for Social Security Disability or maintaining your benefits, the experienced attorneys at the Seelig Law Offices may be able to help. Please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.