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How can I navigate subsidies and special conditions while working and collecting Social Security Disability Insurance?

How can I navigate subsidies and special conditions while working and collecting Social Security Disability Insurance?

If you are employed and receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has put limits on the amount that you are eligible to earn without loss of benefits. As of 2023, you are limited to $1470/month in gross pay, i.e., before any deductions are made. If you earn more than that, you can lose your entire SSDI check.

If you receive what SSA calls “special conditions” for your employment, it is possible to receive an increase in the earnings limit. This increase is called a “subsidy” by Social Security. The SSA website states:

“Subsidies” and “Special Conditions” refer to support you receive on the job that could result in your receiving more pay than the actual value of the services you performed. We deduct the value of subsidies and special conditions from your earnings when we decide whether you are working at the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level.

The following are examples of subsidies and special conditions:

  • You receive more supervision than other workers doing the same or a similar job for the same pay.
  • You have fewer or simpler tasks to complete than other workers who are doing the same job for the same pay.
  • You have a job coach or mentor who helps you perform some of your work.

If you are allowed more time to complete tasks or have your tasks limited in some way, you could be eligible for this subsidy. To apply, it will take some paperwork.

  • Contact your local Social Security Office and let them know you would like to submit paperwork for a subsidy.
  • You will need to complete a work activity report. Your employer will need to complete a form explaining and measuring the amount of the subsidy. This can be done online or via a printed paper form.

Forms for Individuals with Disabilities

Forms for Employers

Subsidy Example

Jane is a person with a brain injury. She has been working at a store for a few years. The store owners have always allowed her more time to complete tasks, and she is only given a couple of tasks at a time to complete in a day. She always shows up, she is very friendly with the customers, and she gets along well with the other staff. The store owners want to give her a raise, but it would put her earnings at $1500/month, which is over the limit of $1350 that SSA allows.

Jane learns about the SSA subsidy. She contacts her local office and gets help completing her work activity report. She shares the form SSA-3033 with her employer and asks that she complete the form. She estimates that Jane works at 70% of the productivity of other staff. It takes her longer to complete tasks, and she is limited in some of the tasks she does for her employer. The employer completes the form, and it is sent back to the local Social Security office. They accept the form. Now Jane can make up to 30% more ($1755 for 2022) and still maintain her SSDI benefits.

Do you need support or resources related to living with a brain injury? Contact the National Brain Injury Information Center at 1-800-444-6443

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