Can I work while on Social Security Disability?

Can I work a part-time job while on Social Security Disability?

Social Security AdministrationIndividuals who are currently on Social Security Disability often ask if they are able to work and earn money while remaining on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  The general answer to this question is “yes, it is possible to earn some money while still retaining disability benefits.”  But there are important conditions and rules that must be taken into account whenever an individual is considering whether or not to work while receiving disability benefits.  One of the most important factors to take into account is whether the amount of earnings will be considered “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) by the Social Security Administration.

Substantial Gainful Activity

The Social Security Administration considers substantial gainful activity to generally be any work that results in earnings over a certain amount.  For each year the dollar amount required to be considered substantial gainful activity will change.  For 2017, the amount for substantial gainful activity is $1,170.00 for non-blind individuals and $1,950.00 for blind individuals.  Because of this, if an individual who is not blind earns more than $1,170.00 per month, they will generally be considered to be participating in substantial gainful activity.  And, if a person is participating in substantial gainful activity, they are generally considered to not be disabled by the Social Security Administration, as disability is defined as the inability to perform substantial gainful activity.

*The amount of money that qualifies as “substantial gainful activity” changes every year. This article was written in 2017 and provides 2017 numbers only. For an updated amount, please check the Social Security Administration’s website on Substantial Gainful Activity.

Other Factors

There are however many circumstances and conditions that may lead to the Social Security Administration to determine that a person making less than $1,170.00 is performing substantial gainful activity and there are circumstances that can lead the Social Security Administration to determine that a person making more than $1,170.00 is still not performing substantial gainful activity.  For example, if a person is making less than $1,170.00 but is performing volunteer work that would normally be an activity that a person would be paid for, then Social Security may consider such activity to be substantial gainful activity.  Or, a person who is earning more than $1,170.00 but was provided with special equipment to aid them in the job or given work specifically to accommodate the individual’s disability may not be considered to be performing substantial gainful activity if it can be shown that the person’s income would have been less but for those circumstances.

What about my specific circumstances?

Due to these factors, along with other exceptions that Social Security provides that may allow for an individual to earn more than $1,170.00 a month such as a trial work period or the ticket to work program, it is important to speak with an experienced Social Security Disability attorney prior to accepting a job while on Social Security Disability benefits.  There are numerous rules, regulations and factors that must be considered in any individual case and it is important to understand all of your options before you make a decision. Call our office today for a free consultation to speak with one of our experienced Social Security Disability Attorneys.

Motorcycle Insurance vs. Car Insurance in Pennsylvania

Motorcycle Insurance LawMotorcycle Insurance

If you own a motorcycle or are thinking of purchasing a motorcycle, you may have questions about the differences in insurance coverage between motorcycles and automobiles.  While, in many respects, motorcycle insurance is very similar to car insurance, it is very important to understand the differences as well.

Motorcycle Accidents and Medical Bills

Under the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law, insurance companies are not required to provide medical benefits to individuals who purchase motorcycle insurance.  This is different from car insurance, where insurance companies are required to at least provide a minimum amount of medical-payments coverage to any individual purchasing an insurance policy in Pennsylvania.  For riders, this often means that if they are involved in a motorcycle crash, they will have to turn to their own health insurance to receive immediate medical treatment.  And, if the rider does not have health insurance, the process can become even more complicated.  In addition, the at-fault party’s insurance company will not pay for your medical bills until your claim has been settled completely.  Because of this, it is important to hire an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to assist you in the event you are involved in a motorcycle crash.

Motorcycle Accident and Pain & Suffering

In the event you are injured in a motorcycle accident, you will be entitled to “full tort” status under the law.  In Pennsylvania, insurers have the option of providing “limited tort” coverage for automobile policies.  These policies do not allow for a person to recover for pain and suffering in the event that they are in an accident unless they suffer a “serious injury” or meet another exception.  Fortunately, for bikers, they are not bound by “limited tort,” as it does not apply to motorcycles under the law.  Because of this, it important to obtain a motorcycle attorney who can ensure that the insurance company does not pay you less than you deserve for your injury.

These are just some of the differences between the insurance coverage for motorcycles and the coverage for automobiles.  Any motorcycle accident is a traumatic experience and it is important to have a motorcycle crash lawyer who is experienced and understands how best to protect your rights and interests and how to maximize your recovery.  Contact one of our attorneys today for a free consultation.

What is the difference between Disability and SSI?


What is the difference between Social Security Disability Income (SSDI or SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

If you are thinking of applying for Social Security Disability or have already applied, you may be wondering what the difference between SSD and SSI is.  Although the two programs are both administered by the Social Security Administration and the criteria to obtain benefits under either program are substantially similar, it is important to note that SSD and SSI are two separate and independent programs with different eligibility requirements.

What is Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)?

Social Security Disability Income, or SSD, provides disability benefits to individuals who are insured through their contributions to the Social Security trust fund.  Workers contribute to this fund through FICA Social Security taxes that are taken in the form of payroll taxes when a person is working.  In exchange for this, an individual who is working obtains work credits through Social Security.  These work credits are used to determine if an individual is eligible for SSD benefits.  Each individual who stops working will have a date last insured, which is the last date that the work credits they have earned will allow them to remain insured and eligible for SSD benefits.  Once this date last insured has passed, it is no longer possible to obtain SSD benefits and because of this, it is very important to obtain an experienced Social Security Disability attorney to help you protect your rights and benefits.

In addition, the amount of SSD benefits an individual can earn is dependent upon a worker’s lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security.  And, if an individual obtains SSD benefits they will become eligible for Medicare after receiving SSD benefits for two years.

What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is not an insurance program like SSD.  Instead, SSI is a means-tested program that is administered by Social Security based solely upon an individual’s needs according to income and assets.  SSI is not funded through payroll taxes but instead is funded through general tax revenues.  In order to be eligible for SSI benefits an individual must not exceed the asset limit that is determined by Social Security and you must not exceed a certain monthly income rate.

SSI benefits are not calculated based upon the earnings that an individual has made but instead they are calculated based upon a set rate that deducts any countable income that an individual may be earning.  Additionally, an individual who is receiving SSI benefits is not eligible for Medicare like an individual who is receiving SSD benefits, instead, SSI recipients are eligible to receive Medicaid.

How do I apply for SSD or SSI?

Because there are many differences between SSD and SSI it is important to obtain an experienced Social Security Disability attorney in the event that you are seeking to obtain disability benefits from Social Security.  Our office will do everything in our power to aid you in the process of obtaining Social Security disability benefits.  Contact one of our attorneys today for a free consultation.

How to get Social Security Disability for Seizures and Epilepsy

Can I get disability or SSI benefits for my seizures?

EEG testing for seizures in Social Security Disability cases
EEG testing can be useful in Social Security Disability cases for proving you suffer from seizures.

If you suffer from epilepsy or some other seizure disorder and have uncontrolled seizures, you may be wondering if it is possible to obtain Social Security disability benefits.  The answer to this question is yes, it is possible to obtain Social Security disability benefits as a result of your seizures.  There are several conditions that must be met before a successful claim for disability benefits because of seizures can be made.

Social Security Disability Rules for Seizures

Under Social Security disability, there are certain impairments that are considered severe enough that they prevent a person from performing substantial gainful activity.  If an individual is able to meet the requirements for one of these listings, then they are considered to be disabled and can be awarded Social Security disability benefits.

Epilepsy (and other seizure disorders) are evaluated under listing 11.02, which focuses on epilepsy and seizure disorders.  Under this listing, there are four ways to obtain disability benefits by meeting the requirements of the listing.  Two of the options are for individuals who suffer generalized tonic-clonic seizures, also known as “grand mal” seizures.  The other two options are for individuals who suffer from dyscognitive seizures, also known absence as “petit mal” seizures. Under any of the options, it is a requirement that an individual is following the treatment that has been prescribed by a medical professional.  Furthermore, it is necessary to be able to provide proof of medical treatment in order to be successful in any disability claim.

In order to meet the listing for tonic-clonic seizures an individual must either have a tonic-clonic seizure at least once a month for three consecutive months despite medical treatment or the tonic-clonic seizures must occur at least once every two months for at least four consecutive months and have a marked limitation in: (1) physical functioning, (2) understanding, remembering, or applying information, (3) interaction with others, (4) concentrating, persisting or maintaining pace or (5) adapting or managing oneself despite medical treatment.

To meet the listing for a dyscognitive seizure an individual must have either a dyscognitive seizure at least once a week for at least three consecutive months despite treatment or have at least one dyscognitive seizure every two weeks for at least 3 consecutive months despite treatment and the individual must have a marked limitation in: : (1) physical functioning, (2) understanding, remembering, or applying information, (3) interaction with others, (4) concentrating, persisting or maintaining pace or (5) adapting or managing oneself.

How Drug and Alcohol Use affects disability for Seizures

Another factor that must be considered for disability involving seizures is whether there is evidence of drug addiction or alcoholism.  For Social Security disability, if there is evidence of past drug or alcohol use, then the administrative law judge conducting the hearing may find that the drug or alcohol use is a contributing factor material to the determination of disability.  If this is the case, then the judge has determined that the disabling limitations have resulted from drug or alcohol use and that any limitations not caused by drugs or alcohol are not severe enough to be disabling.  For individuals who are afflicted with seizures and have a past history of drug or alcohol use, the judge will ultimately determine if the drugs and/or alcohol contributed to the seizures and if it did, then a claim for disability benefits might be unsuccessful.

What should I do if I want to get disability for my seizures?

Successfully obtaining Social Security disability benefits as a result of epilepsy or another seizure disorder is a difficult and involving process that contains many different factors and considerations.  In order to optimize your chances of obtaining benefits if you do suffer from seizures, it is important to retain an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer who understands the Social Security disability system and seizure disorder.  Our office will do everything in our power to aid you in the process of obtaining Social Security disability benefits.  Contact one of our attorneys today for a free consultation.

My doctor has told me I’m disabled; does that mean that I can get Social Security disability benefits?

Am I automatically entitled to Social Security Disability benefits if my doctor says I’m disabled?

Social Security DoctorIf a doctor has said that you are disabled, you might be thinking you have an “easy” Social Security Disability case.  Perhaps your doctor has filled out a form for Medicaid (insurance through the Department of Public Welfare) that states you’re disabled.  But, despite all of this, it does not mean that you are automatically entitled to Social Security disability benefits and it does not mean you have an “easy” case.

Instead, it is important to understand that “disability” under Social Security is a legal determination that must be made by Social Security, often by an administrative law judge (also known as an “ALJ”).  This ALJ is a Social Security Judge who will ultimately determine whether you are disabled or not.  And in making that determination, the ALJ looks to the rules and regulations that Social Security has issued in order to make the decision.  As part of the decision, the ALJ will look to medical opinions and medical records from treating sources such as your doctor.  But, it is important to understand that this is only one area that the ALJ takes into consideration.  It is vital to have an experienced Social Security disability attorney, one who understands the Social Security’s rules and regulations on disability, aid you in the process of obtaining benefits—particularly at the appeal stage.

Alternatively, if you have visited a doctor and the doctor has expressed an opinion that you are not disabled, you still may be able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.  Because disability under Social Security is a legal determination, it is possible to obtain benefits for disability even when the doctor does not believe that you are disabled.  For example, Social Security’s rules contain the Medical/Vocational Guidelines, often referred to as the GRID rules, which contain different standards for individuals based on their age, work history, and education.  These GRID rules are typically used for individuals over the age of 50 because at that point, the standards for disability are often relaxed.  Because of this, an individual whose doctor does not believe that the person is disabled may very well be found to be disabled under the legal rules and regulations set for by Social Security.

It is vital to retain an experienced Social Security disability attorney when considering whether to apply for disability.  Our office will do everything in our power to aid you in the process of obtaining Social Security disability benefits.  Contact one of our attorneys today for a free consultation.

Why can’t I sue my employer if I was hurt at work?

Can I sue my employer if I was hurt at work?

LawsuitIf you have been injured at work in Pennsylvania, you are normally unable to bring a personal injury lawsuit against your employer—even in cases where the employer was negligent and caused you to suffer an injury. Instead, the only possible recovery for a work injury is through the workers’ compensation system. Why is this case? To understand why, it is best to understand the history of worker’s compensation and how the system was created.

A brief history of Workers’ Compensation

Prior to the introduction of workers’ compensation statutes, any worker who was injured on the job had to prove in court that the employer’s negligence was responsible for the injury in order to receive compensation. This was often a long and costly process for any worker to undergo. And, there were many defenses that employers could use to avoid liability for injuries including contributory negligence which prevented recovery if the employee was even slightly at fault for the accident, the fellow-servant doctrine which could allow employers to avoid liability if another employee was the cause of the injury, and the assumption of the risk doctrine which prevented recovery if the employee was aware of and assumed the risks and dangers of the workplace. Due in large part to these defenses, many injured workers recovered no compensation in the event that they were hurt while at work.

But, despite the low odds of recovery, employers also faced their own risks. The system of proving employer negligence often led to court costs and judgments that employers could not predict and they faced rising workplace liability insurance premiums.  Thus, the system provided significant incentives for reform from the perspective of both the worker and the employer. These reforms began first in Europe, starting in Germany in 1884. These workers’ compensation laws soon spread quickly to the United States, with Wisconsin passing the first law in 1911. Soon, the other states began to follow and each began to pass their own individual workers’ compensation laws. Pennsylvania passed its first Workers Compensation Act in 1915. By 1921, all but six states had replaced the old system of requiring a worker to sue to recover for an injury with a modern workers’ compensation system.

Workers’ compensation is often described as a “grand bargain” between workers and the employer. Under workers’ compensation, workers have relinquished the right to sue employers for any injuries that may be suffered in exchange for no-fault occupational injury insurance from the employer. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation is a complex and difficult system to navigate; if you have been injured, it is best to contact an attorney who understands workers’ compensation in order to ensure that you are properly compensated for your injury and that your rights are protected.