When someone develops physical or mental impairments they can often lose the option of being able to do their existing job. For such circumstances, monthly benefits are available through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs. However, each year, more and more people want to know the types of jobs they can do with physical or mental disabilities. The Social Security Administration has continued to make it easier in recent years for people to both work and receive benefits.

Which Benefits Allow Work

It is possible to have part-time or full-time employment while participating in either, or both, the SSI and SSDI benefit programs. Each program has its own set of restrictions regarding work permissions while receiving benefits. SSDI allows a nine-month work trial for recipients over a 60 month period. During this time, those who are receiving benefits because of their impairments will be allowed to test out work and whether or not their conditions affect their ability to work.

Under the SSDI rules, you cannot meet the definition of substantial gainful activity (SGA) and continue to receive SSDI benefits. This means that if you are able to earn $1,310 each month in 2021 (for non-blind persons), you will no longer qualify for SSDI. Throughout the trial period, however, you can earn more than the SGA threshold and still keep your benefits. At the end of the trial, you can determine whether or not you have the ability to sustain employment or not. Although, before beginning such a trial, be aware that additional exceptions exist.

SSI benefits also allow for individuals with impairments to work and receive benefits under certain circumstances. The first aspect of SSI benefits to understand is that any funds awarded are based on your financial situation, income, and assets. As such, if you work in 2021, your countable resources should not be more than $2,000 if you are single and $3,000 for those in a couple. The SSA provides a number of exemptions based on assets and income that will not count toward countable resources.

It has been noted that in some cases if a person is able to continue working while they apply for SSI or SSDI that it could affect their likelihood of being approved for benefits. Before you apply for these benefits, it is a good idea to speak with an advocate to determine whether or not working during the approval process is right for your needs. Each case will be different – there are no hard and fast “rules” for this, and so getting a consultation from a specialist is important.


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Returning to Previous Roles

After an accident, incident, disease or illness that leaves you with limited capabilities, it can become difficult for some people to continue with the same exact work as before. For instance, some people may not be able to remain in a position (such as sitting or standing) for more than a short amount of time. Others may not be able to lift as much as they used to be able to. Many people will have a variety of different limitations. In these circumstances, you will have to work with your employer’s Human Resources department to determine the best courses of action. If your physical or mental impairments prevent you from continuing with or returning to a previous position for a longer period of time or permanently, you should also speak with your employer’s Human Resources department regarding other positions for which you may qualify. Also, be sure to discuss whether or not your existing role can be adapted to meet your current ability offerings.

If your current employer is unable to or refuses to work with you in a new capacity or you simply wish to find a new job, you still have options. You may have to adjust the number of hours you are able to work, the tasks within your area of expertise and the working environment you are used to; however, many individuals with impairments still have many employment opportunities. Remember that every year, more assistance is made available in a variety of forms, such as occupational rehab, physical rehab, behavioral therapy, assistive technology and more. As an added bonus, working from home and learning new skills has never been more convenient. And do not forget about the SSA’s work incentive programs to help get you started on a new career path while receiving benefits.

It should be noted, however, that if your employer does make accommodations for your impairments that allow you to continue to conduct “Substantial Gainful Activity,” you may not be found disabled by the Social Security Administration and thus would not be eligible for SSDI benefits.

Preparing for a New Career

Whether your disability is the driving force behind your career change or you are finally pursuing a professional dream despite your current limitations, preparing for a new career has never been more accessible and attainable for those with impairments. In some cases, you will need to complete various training, education, certifications or degrees. Many advanced education and skill development opportunities can be completed online these days.

For those who are receiving benefits or in need of financial assistance, be sure to apply for every scholarship and grant for which you qualify. Many people with physical or mental impairments will qualify for scholarships and grants. It is also possible to pursue SSA financial assistance for training and education deemed necessary for a new career.

Do not underestimate yourself and your abilities. You do not always have to work for someone else. A growing number of people with disabilities are starting their own businesses or working as freelancers, contractors or consultants. These roles make part-time work far easier and allow you to continue receiving benefits in many cases. It also provides you with enough time to make doctor visits, physical therapy, group therapy or any additional health-related activities you require to improve your quality of life.

Jobs for Physical Impairments

Individuals with physical impairments may still be able to work in a variety of capacities, particularly in areas without many physical demands. Today, a large number of jobs are also able to be adapted to meet the needs of those who use wheelchairs, those with vision impairment or those with hearing loss. As previously stated, many people will create their own jobs through entrepreneurship, consultancy, freelancing or contracting work. And there are still plenty of jobs with existing employers for which physical impairments are not an obstacle.

You can select nearly any type of business, industry or expertise to pursue based on your abilities and professional strengths, such as teaching, child care, car repair, pet care, writing, food service, office work, programming, accounting, clerical work, sales and much more. It is possible to work in the medical field, become an attorney, work outdoors, work independently, work in groups or even in construction. A physical impairment does not always have to prevent someone from being able to work, but rather it can create new opportunities to try something new or to learn a new way to perform the same tasks.

Jobs for People Who Struggle with Mental Health

Mental health issues affect each person differently. Some people prefer solitude without much interaction with others; whereas, other people need a lot of stimulation and socializing. The condition or disorder may be temporary or long term. Each case will be unique in the severity of the situation and whether or not it is able to be managed well enough for someone to keep a job or to learn a new one.

Many people with mental health concerns excel in research, analysis, accounting, healthcare positions, IT careers and engineering. Others may not be able to concentrate on the intricate needs of these types of careers, as such, less mentally demanding careers might be ideal; including cleaning, maintenance, kitchen prep, lawn care and more. And many people with mental health issues are highly creative individuals who are a great fit for many career options, such as photography, writing, graphic design, video editing and much more.

When Working Isn’t Possible or Can’t Sustain You

Of course, returning to work or starting a new career may not be possible for everybody. Some people will find their impairments to be altogether too limiting to sustain work. For these people, programs like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be a real lifeline. Speaking to a disability advocate about the best way to apply for these benefits can be quite helpful, as the process (whether one wants to keep working, someday go back to work, or will be prevented from working for at least one year or longer) has a variety of rules and complexities.


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About Citizens Disability, LLC:

Since 2010, Citizens Disability has been America’s premier Social Security Disability institution. Our services include helping people in applying for SSDI benefits, managing the process through Reconsideration, and representing people in person at their Hearing, and if necessary, bringing their case to the Appeals Council. Our mission is to give a voice to the millions of Americans who are disabled and unable to work, helping them receive the Social Security Disability benefits to which they may be entitled. Learn more about us and disability benefits like SSDI & SSI or give us a call at (800) 492-3260.


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