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Self-Employment and SSDI

If you are self-employed and looking to apply for SSDI, you may have questions about whether or not you are eligible to receive this kind of benefit. Luckily, our social security lawyers know the details of SSDI and can answer any questions you may have. Check out some commonly asked questions about SSDI and self-employment, then contact us to get started with a free consult:

I’ve only ever been self-employed: can I still apply for SSDI?

If you have been exclusively self-employed, or your recent work history is all self-employment, you may be worried that you do not meet the base qualifications to apply for SSDI. After all, most people qualify for SSDI because their employers withhold social security taxes from their paychecks. On the other hand, you have likely not been receiving regular paychecks, particularly not with the standard deductions for an employer. You don’t even have an employer; you just have yourself! Don’t panic: when you fill out your quarterly or annual tax return, you likely have been paying those same Social Security taxes alongside your income tax and a Medicare tax. This alone may qualify you for SSDI, depending on how long you have paid these taxes and how recently. If you have a spouse that is also disabled and receiving benefits, you may also be eligible for benefits through that spouse. These requirements can be complicated; contact one of our social security lawyers for a free consult personalized to your situation.

I’m applying for SSDI. Will my current self-employment harm my application?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) sets an earnings cutoff amount to determine “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). If an applicant earns above this cutoff amount each month, they will not be eligible for SSDI. However, if an applicant is self-employed, the criterion is a bit different to determine SGA. In fact, the SSA uses three tests.  

The first is the “significant services and substantial income” test. If a self-employed applicant BOTH contributes significant services AND receives substantial income from their business, they may be denied SSDI benefits. The substantial income test is a bit tricky, but certainly, if an applicant is making above $1,310 a month, that will qualify as substantial income.

The second test is the “comparability” test. If the applicant does not meet the requirements for significant services and/or substantial income, the SSA will compare their work to a non-impaired individual doing similar work. The SSA will look at job duties, energy used, and other criteria to determine the similarity. If they are deemed to be comparable, the applicant may be denied SSDI.

Finally, the third test is the “worth of work” test. Regardless of your actual income, if the SSA determines that the worth of your work is more than $1,310 a month, you will be deemed to have SGA and may be denied SSDI benefits.

Find a Social Security Lawyer

If this all seems confusing to you – don’t worry! Our team of social security lawyers understands these complex SSDI and self-employment requirements and can guide you through the process of applying for or appealing an SSDI decision. Contact us today!

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