Earning >SGA while on SSDI

MedicUp40

Registered Member
Hi,

I am 31y/o. I am 100% P&T disabled by the VA. I start to receive my SSDI soon. I have had a very hard time finding and keeping work and decided that SSDI is best right now for my family and I.

I am active in my church. I volunteer some with the kids ministry and I am an usher. I was just offered a Part time IT position by the lead pastor of the church.

Him and I have discussed everything in details and he knows the regulations set forth by the SSA. I have read the red book and most all of the CFR’s.

Here’s the question: can I earn more than SGA amount of $1180 ?

when:I have the special accommodations listed in my offer letter such as, irregular hours (I make my own schedule), I will be inside my own office, I will be allowed the take breaks at anytime needed, and I will not be penalized for missing days of work.

I have spoke to both of my Psychiatrists at the VA and they agree to write letters to approve of me working in that environment with special accommodations.

If you have time, it would be greatly appreciated if you could advise me on this matter. We have 3 children and can’t afford childcare because my wife wouldn’t make as much as it would cost to put them all in childcare (~$2700/month) We honestly need the extra money. We are in Bankruptxy as well.

Also, My SSDI and VA 100% disability is based solely on my PTSD and related MH issues. This makes my case even more tricky.

I know this post became lengthy but that you all so much for your time!! I know the regs inside and out.

V/R

Doc
 

Chaps_Z

PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
the stipulations of the job doesn't matter. Its the dollar amount that counts.

You could earn that in one hour or in 31 days in a month and it will still be the same.

Once that amount is gone over, your pay is offset. Same applies for people who retire earlier than their normal retired date for SS.
 

MedicUp40

Registered Member
The special accommodations of the job do matter. It’s clearly listed in the CFRs what the exceptions are to the rules of making more than $1180. Sheltered environment, working for a family members company, working for an employer that gives you extended breaks and allows you to work irregular hours. All of these are the exceptions.

I am asking because I want to know if anyone else is in the same situation and they are allowed to do this.

https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/cfr20/404/404-1573.htm

Thank you for your input. I appreciate your time.

- Doc J
 

oddpedestrian

PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
I always give people in this situation tough love because their circumstances are completely implausible no matter how much they try to justify it. You are bringing in close to $4600.00 TAX-FREE dollars a month and have somehow found yourself destitute. If you claim to work over the SGA because you have accommodations expect for your case to be audited, SS investigators and their investigative attorneys may not concur that you can work at all with a totally disabling mental health condition. They will review all your clinical notes and if they believe you are misleading your symptoms expect to either be re-evaluated to terminate benefits or worst terminate benefits based on fraud. SS will then contact the VA who after reviewing their findings will schedule you for a C&P exam where the examiner will know the circumstances revolving around your case and will probably recommend a reduction if SS claims its fraud the VA will CUE you for the 100%. I have seen this happen many times in situations that are very similar to yours where the claimant decided to work collecting both disability checks because they were in severe debt its always SS who will be hot on your case. You claim that your doctors support you working but under the current rules 100% disability for MH is TOTAL social and occupational impairment you won't get flack from the VA but you will from SS.

First, you have to get your finances under control try your best for a Ch 11 bankruptcy if you are going for Ch 7 yes they remove your debts but the creditors have no obligation to provide any future services for you because they got shafted in the bankruptcy. Getting out of debt involves two choices bringing more money in or reducing whats going out it's really that simple. Secured debts tend to be the biggest problem this includes multiple or very high car payments or a very high mortgage loan now that you are in bankruptcy you may have the opportunity to downsize on your home or your cars etc the unsecured debts typically don't have high payments and you can consolidate those bills better under a Ch 11. If these debts are medical then I would absolutely Ch 7 discharge them.

Try to find some free financial counseling provided by either the VA or a reputable company.
 

MedicUp40

Registered Member
Well first, my symptoms are real and I have years of episodes to prove it since I was discharged. That’s the reason I’m 100% T&P for ptsd and mh issues. That’s a very, very rare thing to be permanent and total disabled for. Usually, it’s always schedular at 100% ptsd. So I’m not worried at all about them investigating all of my clinical notes and files. They won’t find any cracks. Guarantee that!!!

I am in chapter 13, i was pre-law. I know the laws like the back of my hand. Thank you for your opinion.
I will keep you all updated in a few years.

Thank you.
 

MedicUp40

Registered Member
I actually challenge SSA to look into my clinical files and notes from my psychiatrist and all of my C&Ps. It’s not fraud. It’s all honest and verified. God is on my side and I wouldn’t do anything dishonest to mess that up. Thank you.
 

gsfowler

Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
I bit my lip on this for two days.

I cannot believe that you are using God to justify your malingering.

You asked me your opinion and I gave you an answer, based upon my experience. You have also asked the question in public and you have received answers (that differ from your opinion).

Good luck in circumventing the system.

As I told you the SGA figure of $1180 does not matter, as ANY earning over $880 will trigger a trial work period. It does not matter how the $$ was earned. It can be gambling earnings, a bonus from previous employment, even the DoVA offset of your retirement triggers a trial work period.

It may happen right away, it may take a year or two, but it will happen.

Let's talk about this. The lead pastor at your church is offering you a position in IT, and is willing to make every single accommodation request you are asking for, so you can check what you believe are all of the boxes to get around the SGA rules?

Fraud, is deliberate deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain. You have come into this forum, in front of God and many Veterans who have served this country with dignity, respect and honor and asked us to validate your scheme to financially enrich yourself.

You should sit down with this pastor and discuss Luke 16:10-13
 

MedicUp40

Registered Member
I’m a Christian. I try my hardest to live in Gods will. I would never be dishonest. I served my country with dignity and honor. I’m not coming fraud because I am not trying gain anything unlawfully. That’s exactly why I quoted the exact CFR that allows for exceptions to the rule of SGA. That’s not being dishonest. I do not need anyone to validate my “scheme” because God knows my heart.

I do not think y’all intended to be harmful or discouraging. I’m sorry for hoghtening yalls emotions. Facts are facts. That cfr 20.404.1573 would not be written in the regulations if there wasn’t a reason.

Thank you for y’alls time.

Feel free to please delete my post as I do not want to point anyone in the wrong direction or good bad advice.

Thanks agaub

Doc J
Purple Heart
 

Jason Perry

Benevolent Leader
Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
Well, this thread went sideways. Seems like there might have been private messages, posts I missed or other information that is not clear from this post.

Let's just focus on providing information. (We don't provide legal advice here).

I tend to think the issues are pretty straightforward and the next step is to figure out the consequences of busting the SGA amounts.

I also would say that not knowing enough (much less of all of the details of other issues) for things like bankruptcy filings makes any discussion necessarily limited. I don't discourage discussion of potential issues, but, really hard to say much of worth without knowing all of the issues.

Let's also not discourage asking questions (even if the answers seem to bend one way or another). Far as I can tell, MedicUp40 asked some questions. (He may not like the answers, that is a separate issue). Not like he is proposing a Brinks robbery. He is asking a question. Let's not discourage asking questions.

Here is what I got:


Hi,

I am 31y/o. I am 100% P&T disabled by the VA. I start to receive my SSDI soon. I have had a very hard time finding and keeping work and decided that SSDI is best right now for my family and I.
So you have been approved for SSDI. Which means they have found you unable to engage in Substantially Gainful Activities.

I am active in my church. I volunteer some with the kids ministry and I am an usher. I was just offered a Part time IT position by the lead pastor of the church.

Him and I have discussed everything in details and he knows the regulations set forth by the SSA. I have read the red book and most all of the CFR’s.

Here’s the question: can I earn more than SGA amount of $1180 ?
Without losing your SSDI compensation, generally, no. You might have a trial of work period where you can earn, but, the risk is that you lose SSDI compensation at some point.

Do you have some basis, other than the CFR you referenced (20 CFR 404.1573)? I don't see or know of any basis for thinking that earning above the SGA presumptive amounts will somehow excuse a finding that you are able to engage in SGA.

That might be the piece you are missing. If able to engage in SGA, well that pretty much brings you to the loss of SGA findings (and loss of SSDI compensation).

when:I have the special accommodations listed in my offer letter such as, irregular hours (I make my own schedule), I will be inside my own office, I will be allowed the take breaks at anytime needed, and I will not be penalized for missing days of work.
That is all fine and may well make up "sheltered" work conditions. But, that does not mean you are not able to engage in SGA.

If you have time, it would be greatly appreciated if you could advise me on this matter. We have 3 children and can’t afford childcare because my wife wouldn’t make as much as it would cost to put them all in childcare (~$2700/month) We honestly need the extra money. We are in Bankruptxy as well.
Just keep in mind, your "financial needs" are not the issue. It is the SSDI determination that you are or are not able to engage in SGA. Apparently, the SSA has found you unable to engage in SGA. The risk you take is loss of SSDI if it turns out you are able to engage in SGA. Earning more than the limits for your locality will weigh heavily towards a finding you are able to engage in SGA.

Also, My SSDI and VA 100% disability is based solely on my PTSD and related MH issues. This makes my case even more tricky.
Not sure I understand why this makes your case tricky.

Here’s the question: can I earn more than SGA amount of $1180 ?

when:I have the special accommodations listed in my offer letter such as, irregular hours (I make my own schedule), I will be inside my own office, I will be allowed the take breaks at anytime needed, and I will not be penalized for missing days of work.
Not likely. Earn more than the amount, you will likely be found to engage in SGA.

You could earn that in one hour or in 31 days in a month and it will still be the same.
There are actually some regulations about averaging issues:


§ 404.1574a When and how we will average your earnings.

20 CFR 404.1574a

That said, more or less, the result is the same and for most purposes, you are right here.


The special accommodations of the job do matter. It’s clearly listed in the CFRs what the exceptions are to the rules of making more than $1180. Sheltered environment, working for a family members company, working for an employer that gives you extended breaks and allows you to work irregular hours. All of these are the exceptions.
I think you are misreading the regulations. Below, you cite 20 C FR .404.1573. I don't think this regulation means what you think it does. Take a look at this portion of the cited regulation:

"(1)(a)(1) Your earnings may show you have done substantial gainful activity. Generally, in evaluating your work activity for substantial gainful activity purposes, our primary consideration will be the earnings you derive from the work activity. We will use your earnings to determine whether you have done substantial gainful activity unless we have information from you, your employer, or others that shows that we should not count all of your earnings. The amount of your earnings from work you have done (regardless of whether it is unsheltered or sheltered work) may show that you have engaged in substantial gainful activity. Generally, if you worked for substantial earnings, we will find that you are able to do substantial gainful activity."

20 CFR 404.1574

I always give people in this situation tough love because their circumstances are completely implausible no matter how much they try to justify it. You are bringing in close to $4600.00 TAX-FREE dollars a month and have somehow found yourself destitute.
I get the instinct (and sometimes, "tough love" is needed if it to help people understand and address their situation with a dose of reality).

However, we don't know all of the circumstances. There could be many reasons why there is a bankruptcy filing. Who knows? Debts from pre-service, medical debts that were not covered, wrongful separation from active duty prior to adjudication of a PEB case, losses from fraud against him, uninsured losses, etc. Lots of plausible ways that folks can end up in bankruptcy. (I also know of many cases where folks are taking advantage of creditors, and don't deserve- at least morally- protections of the bankruptcy code. I personally was a victim of a debtor landlord skating on debts due me because of taking my security deposit and spending it on herself). My point, no way can we know that the situation described is "implausible."
Let's give the benefit of any doubt in the absence of evidence to the contrary. Plus, he didn't ask anything about this and didn't provide details. So, not sure it makes sense to offer much on this point. (I don't discourage the discussion of issues not raised; just not sure anyone should assume a course of action is improper or not supported without information about the issue implicated).

If you claim to work over the SGA because you have accommodations expect for your case to be audited, SS investigators and their investigative attorneys may not concur that you can work at all with a totally disabling mental health condition. They will review all your clinical notes and if they believe you are misleading your symptoms expect to either be re-evaluated to terminate benefits or worst terminate benefits based on fraud.
Not sure this is a likely outcome. I think the baseline and most important issue is the potential loss of SSDI benefits. Sure, there are cases when you will see a legal/administrative "forensic colonoscopy" with a look at many issues. But, this is not a likely scenario as a baseline. The real issue is loss of SSDI.

SS will then contact the VA who after reviewing their findings will schedule you for a C&P exam where the examiner will know the circumstances revolving around your case and will probably recommend a reduction if SS claims its fraud the VA will CUE you for the 100%.
Again, I am not sure this is a likely result. Main issue is loss of SSDI if he actually engages in SGA.

I have seen this happen many times in situations that are very similar to yours where the claimant decided to work collecting both disability checks because they were in severe debt its always SS who will be hot on your case.
I agree that SSA will get after benefits is the claimaint/recipient is actually engaging in SGA. That is the real issue, in my opinion.


First, you have to get your finances under control try your best for a Ch 11 bankruptcy if you are going for Ch 7 yes they remove your debts but the creditors have no obligation to provide any future services for you because they got shafted in the bankruptcy. Getting out of debt involves two choices bringing more money in or reducing whats going out it's really that simple. Secured debts tend to be the biggest problem this includes multiple or very high car payments or a very high mortgage loan now that you are in bankruptcy you may have the opportunity to downsize on your home or your cars etc the unsecured debts typically don't have high payments and you can consolidate those bills better under a Ch 11. If these debts are medical then I would absolutely Ch 7 discharge them.
See my above comments. Hard to offer much without knowing more about this issue, but, as far as I read, I didn't see any questions or issues with this. The Bankruptcy Court and the trustee will dig into the relevant issues.

Fine to raise issues for consideration, but, I don't know that there is anything to comment on in the questions posed.

Well first, my symptoms are real and I have years of episodes to prove it since I was discharged. That’s the reason I’m 100% T&P for ptsd and mh issues. That’s a very, very rare thing to be permanent and total disabled for. Usually, it’s always schedular at 100% ptsd. So I’m not worried at all about them investigating all of my clinical notes and files. They won’t find any cracks. Guarantee that!!!

I am in chapter 13, i was pre-law. I know the laws like the back of my hand. Thank you for your opinion.
I will keep you all updated in a few years.

Thank you.
Not that it matters much, but, no, that is not a rare thing to be found P&T for, I see that all the time.

I cannot believe that you are using God to justify your malingering.
I don't agree with bringing creed, belief, or religion into anything about questions or answers here. I don't care if you are an atheist, a rooster worshipper, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, agnostic, or you worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Let's leave religion out of posts as much as possible. I don't know how it is relevant at all.

See my next comment regarding malingering.

You asked me your opinion and I gave you an answer, based upon my experience. You have also asked the question in public and you have received answers (that differ from your opinion).
Sounds like there may have been one or more private messages exchanged regarding this members situation. Not sure how or why malingering came up, but, from what I know in this thread, I don't see how malingering is implicated.

Let's talk about this. The lead pastor at your church is offering you a position in IT, and is willing to make every single accommodation request you are asking for, so you can check what you believe are all of the boxes to get around the SGA rules?

Fraud, is deliberate deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain. You have come into this forum, in front of God and many Veterans who have served this country with dignity, respect and honor and asked us to validate your scheme to financially enrich yourself.
Let's just get back to the issue- and I think the answer.

If MedicUP40 earns enough money, he will likely lose SSDI benefits based on his being able to engage in SGA. That is the bottom line and all that really matters, far as I can tell.

I’m a Christian. I try my hardest to live in Gods will. I would never be dishonest. I served my country with dignity and honor. I’m not coming fraud because I am not trying gain anything unlawfully. That’s exactly why I quoted the exact CFR that allows for exceptions to the rule of SGA. That’s not being dishonest. I do not need anyone to validate my “scheme” because God knows my heart.

I do not think y’all intended to be harmful or discouraging. I’m sorry for hoghtening yalls emotions. Facts are facts. That cfr 20.404.1573 would not be written in the regulations if there wasn’t a reason.
I hope your faith and beliefs bring you comfort and that you enjoy fellowship and strength from your beliefs. Like I wrote above, religion doesn't really impact or have a place in the information we provide and does nothing to increase or decrease the issues we discuss (I suppose there could be very specific cases where religion might matter, maybe for Conscientious Objectors or maybe other issues that I can't think of right now). We welcome everyone here regardless of creed, belief, or other such issues.


I think the answer to your issue and questions boils down to this. Are you able to engage in SGA? If you earn above the statutory and regulatory amounts, the most likely outcome is that you will be found to be able to engage in SGA. So, if you take this IT job, and earn more, than you risk losing your SSDI.

I don't think your read of the CFR is accurate or that it shows what you think it does.

At the end of the day, you are left with the option to take the job, and perhaps lose SSDI compensation.

That is probably as simple as it gets. Take the job and earn more than the limits, that is strong evidence you should not get continued SSDI benefits.

Best of luck to you and your family.
 

Jason Perry

Benevolent Leader
Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
Bottom line, not really controversial:

You get SSDI if you can't engage in SGA. If you demonstrate you can engage in SGA by earning more than the statutory and regulatory amount, well, you are almost certainly able to engage in SGA and you will lose SSDI benefits.

Pretty straightforward.
No need to bring hate/angst/lengthy discussions into the conversation. If someone wants to ignore the information provided here, especially knowing the risks, that is their choice. Hearing words or affirmation or reprobation won't change things. People will make their own choices.

(Also, for the folks who did weigh in, remember that any posts that answer or address any members post may be helpful to them....but, this forum also helps folks who read the forum posts months or years later, and they are also an audience. So, keep that in mind and also that your help extends beyond any one person, but, potentially helps many more folks).
 

MedicUp40

Registered Member
Jason,

I really appreciate the time you took to looking into my discussion and questions.

I told both ppl that replied that I respected their opinions, I was not trying to be dishonest about anything. But you are right, I didn’t like their answers and I took offense instead of staying humble and acknowledging their experience and knowledge.

I’m not relying on my Faith to help thru an issue to break the regulations. I also re-read almost the entire CFR’s and I believe that you are right about me misunderstanding that CFR that I cited.

You almost hit the nail on the head, I awas medically discharged for my PTSD “mental health issues” but never went to a MEB board. I was kinda rushed out after 2 tours and 4 years of serving.

I actually have filed a DD 149 and received a response that they are processing it and to expect a decision within 18-24 months. Medical debts that aren’t covered a large part of my debts along with federal student loans that I had to live off of.

I appreciate you not attacking me or accusing me of wrong doing. I am actually a Registered Nurse and use to make $60k+ but due to being a medic and all the trauma I seen, it has completely changed my tolerance for doing medical work. I am definitely malingering.

I just want to be able to provide for my family, keep our house that we purchased in 2011 and be a good father and husband.

I’m sorry for bringing ‘religion’ into the mix.

I am not “trying to get one over on the SSA”. My ssdi benefits are less than 1/4 a month of what I made as an RN. Believe me, I’m not that type of person. My license is still active as well.

I respect everyone’s answer and appreciate everyone’s time they took to read my post.

-Doc
 

Jason Perry

Benevolent Leader
Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
Jason,

I really appreciate the time you took to looking into my discussion and questions.

I told both ppl that replied that I respected their opinions, I was not trying to be dishonest about anything. But you are right, I didn’t like their answers and I took offense instead of staying humble and acknowledging their experience and knowledge.

I’m not relying on my Faith to help thru an issue to break the regulations. I also re-read almost the entire CFR’s and I believe that you are right about me misunderstanding that CFR that I cited.

You almost hit the nail on the head, I awas medically discharged for my PTSD “mental health issues” but never went to a MEB board. I was kinda rushed out after 2 tours and 4 years of serving.

I actually have filed a DD 149 and received a response that they are processing it and to expect a decision within 18-24 months. Medical debts that aren’t covered a large part of my debts along with federal student loans that I had to live off of.

I appreciate you not attacking me or accusing me of wrong doing. I am actually a Registered Nurse and use to make $60k+ but due to being a medic and all the trauma I seen, it has completely changed my tolerance for doing medical work. I am definitely malingering.

I just want to be able to provide for my family, keep our house that we purchased in 2011 and be a good father and husband.

I’m sorry for bringing ‘religion’ into the mix.

I am not “trying to get one over on the SSA”. My ssdi benefits are less than 1/4 a month of what I made as an RN. Believe me, I’m not that type of person. My license is still active as well.

I respect everyone’s answer and appreciate everyone’s time they took to read my post.

-Doc
I hope all works out well for you.

My comments about religion were not directed towards you. It is great if you find comfort and strength from your religious beliefs. I just wanted to be clear that on this forum, responses, discussions, and participation are not influenced or a factor based on religion. I have served with devout Christians, Muslims, Jews, and all manner of folks who don't believe in any God at all. My goal here is to help folks who have served (and their families, or anyone seeking information). Religious beliefs, or lack of the same, don't matter here except to the extent that the same make folks comfortable in asking questions. I was not pleased about the injection of religion into the discussion about your posts.
 

gsfowler

Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Jason,

I really appreciate the time you took to looking into my discussion and questions.

I told both ppl that replied that I respected their opinions, I was not trying to be dishonest about anything. But you are right, I didn’t like their answers and I took offense instead of staying humble and acknowledging their experience and knowledge.

I’m not relying on my Faith to help thru an issue to break the regulations. I also re-read almost the entire CFR’s and I believe that you are right about me misunderstanding that CFR that I cited.

You almost hit the nail on the head, I awas medically discharged for my PTSD “mental health issues” but never went to a MEB board. I was kinda rushed out after 2 tours and 4 years of serving.

I actually have filed a DD 149 and received a response that they are processing it and to expect a decision within 18-24 months. Medical debts that aren’t covered a large part of my debts along with federal student loans that I had to live off of.

I appreciate you not attacking me or accusing me of wrong doing. I am actually a Registered Nurse and use to make $60k+ but due to being a medic and all the trauma I seen, it has completely changed my tolerance for doing medical work. I am definitely malingering.

I just want to be able to provide for my family, keep our house that we purchased in 2011 and be a good father and husband.

I’m sorry for bringing ‘religion’ into the mix.

I am not “trying to get one over on the SSA”. My ssdi benefits are less than 1/4 a month of what I made as an RN. Believe me, I’m not that type of person. My license is still active as well.

I respect everyone’s answer and appreciate everyone’s time they took to read my post.

-Doc

I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but many student loans are forgiven if you are 100% disabled. www.disabilitydischarge.com

Your bankruptcy attorney should have you filling this out. Pretty much one of the easiest relief from debt applications out there. Use your 100% P&T letter from the VA (you can get a copy of it from eBenefits.).

It takes 6 months to a year for the discharge to take place and it is now tax free if you use the VA letter. I had nearly $140K in loans discharged

You may want to look into becoming a Nurse Case Manager with the military as a civilian for employment. There is no direct patient care and you can have your own isolated office. I have a NCM working for me that is also 100% disabled. All he does is review medical charts to determine the availability of Tricare services and provide me an answer. All communication goes through emails and shared networks.

The MTF makes many reasonable accommodations to ensure the work environment is protected. The VA has similar programs.

Because their is no direct patient care, the position is GS-10, however in my locality that is $57,198.10 ($27.41 per hour).

One major benefit of working as a GS employee is that if you are service connected disabled greater than 30%, you are given 104 extra sick leave hours to assist with the transition (medical appointments) which gives you two hours per week to attend counseling sessions and what not.

It may not be the same in all MTF's but if we have a medical appt. and it is on campus (meaning we do not have to get in a car and drive somewhere) we are not required to take sick leave to attend.

You can also talk to Voc Rehab and Employment and tell them that you want to try out nursing again. They can enroll you in VR&E and pay you BAH at the rate of E5 w/dependents. This is not income so it does not count against your SSDI. They can place you in any government run organization. If you are having a hard time with that transition you can be puled out and put into soft skills courses that will help you out, and you still collect the BAH.
 
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My_View

PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
MedicUp40, I don't know your entire situation but you stated, "we have 3 children and can’t afford childcare because my wife wouldn’t make as much as it would cost to put them all in childcare (~$2700/month) We honestly need the extra money." Like I stated I am not sure of your situation but couldn't you watch the children while your wife went to work? That should put all the questions about SGA to rest. Anyway best of luck in whatever you decide!
 
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