Working With Disability

Is Working Allowed While My Appeal Is Considered?

Working while applying for or receiving disability is a topic we are sometimes asked about.  This question is best answered in layers.  First and foremost, we get it.  We know that it is difficult to go months with zero income.  We understand that sometimes you have to do what you have to do to make ends meet and keep a roof over your head.  On the other hand, often the effect on your case is not worth what you can make by pushing yourself to the limit.

  • Most of our clients need to prove that they are unable to work.  Period.  While some clients are trying to establish that they are unable to do the job they previously worked, the majority are trying to prove long-term disability from any occupation.  Working contradicts the assertion that you cannot work.  It is generally not a good idea to work while you are trying to establish that you are disabled.  You should absolutely be guided by the advice of your physicians.
  • Should your claim be approved, the insurance company will generally offset earned income against any long-term disability insurance it pays and most stop paying altogether once you reach 80% of your pre-disability earnings.  You need to read your policy to learn how earned income affects your benefits.  A disability insurance attorney can help answer questions you have about your policy.
  • Even if you make just enough to get by with an income that would only cause an offset if your LTD were approved, working may also affect the strength of your case in the event of an LTD denial and subsequent lawsuit.
  • If you are disabled for a closed period and your physicians indicate you may be able to return to work, many disability insurance policies allow what is called partial or residual disability for a period of time.  Some policies permit partial or residual disability indefinitely.  It is usually a good idea to have a disability insurance attorney review your policy in this regard.
  • The rules for Social Security Disability are different.   Social Security Disability has a program called Ticket to Work which governs the amount recipients can earn through part-time work AFTER benefits are approved.  You can learn about the program at  You should consider consulting an attorney who practices Social Security Disability before working while seeking Social Security Disability benefits.
  • Volunteer work is work from the perspective of a disability insurance carrier.  You may not be earning any money, but the insurer can use whatever tasks you are performing during the hours you work for a charitable cause to demonstrate residual functional capacity (the ability to work) in the same way that paid work does.

Some disability insurance attorneys will automatically discharge clients who return to work.  As we said, our firm understands the struggle.  We advise clients on a case-by-case basis according to their situation.  If you have questions, give us a call.