Do you live with a disability in Florida and work part-time while wondering if you could qualify for disability benefits? At Disability Advocates Group, we understand your challenges and want to help you get the financial assistance you need and deserve. Our experienced disability attorneys will evaluate your unique situation, explain your options, and guide you through the complex disability claims process with skill and compassion.

How Working Part-Time Affects SSDI and SSI Benefits

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI supports individuals who have worked and paid into Social Security, while SSI assists those with limited income and resources. Both have strict eligibility criteria regarding your medical condition and ability to work.

If you currently work part-time, you may still qualify for disability benefits, depending on your income level. The SSA allows SSDI recipients to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) and earn up to $1,470 monthly ($2,460 if you are blind) in 2023. You could be eligible for benefits if your monthly earnings fall below this threshold.

SSI has even stricter income limits, aiming to help those most in need. The SSA will look at your earned and unearned income, including wages, Social Security benefits, pensions, and food and shelter you receive from others. In general, your total monthly income can be, at most, the maximum federal SSI benefit rate, which is $914 for an individual and $1,371 for a couple in 2023. Some income, like the first $20 of most income received in a month, and the first $65 of earnings, does not count toward this limit.

Understanding the Complex Disability Claims Process

Applying for disability benefits involves a lot of paperwork, strict deadlines, and nuanced eligibility rules. Making sense of it all while living with a disability and working part-time can feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to go it alone. The knowledgeable attorneys at Disability Advocates Group will handle every aspect of your claim and fight for the benefits you deserve.

Our team will:

  • Evaluate your situation in a free consultation and advise you on the best path forward
  • Gather all required medical records, work history details, and other evidence to build a strong claim
  • Fill out confusing applications, appeals, and other forms for you
  • Present a persuasive case to SSA representatives and judges
  • Cross-examine medical and vocational experts, if needed
  • Meet all deadlines and manage correspondence with the SSA
  • Keep you updated on your case’s progress and promptly address any questions and concerns
  • Continue appealing denials and exploring every option to get your benefits

We know how much a successful disability claim can mean for your financial stability, peace of mind, and overall quality of life. We take on the legal burdens and advocate fiercely for your right to benefits so you can focus on your health and well-being.

Medical Eligibility for Disability Benefits

To qualify for SSDI or SSI, you must have a medical condition that significantly limits your ability to work and engage in substantial gainful activity. The condition must have lasted or be expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.

The SSA maintains a list of disabling conditions in its Blue Book that may automatically qualify if you meet the specified criteria. These span 14 categories:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders like back injuries and arthritis
  • Special senses and speech issues like vision and hearing loss
  • Respiratory illnesses like asthma and cystic fibrosis  
  • Cardiovascular conditions like chronic heart failure and coronary artery disease
  • Digestive tract problems like liver disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Genitourinary disorders like chronic kidney disease
  • Hematological disorders like hemolytic anemias and disorders of bone marrow failure
  • Skin disorders like dermatitis and burns
  • Endocrine disorders like diabetes and thyroid problems
  • Congenital disorders that affect multiple body systems
  • Neurological disorders like epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis
  • Mental disorders like depression, anxiety, autism, and intellectual disorder
  • Cancer (malignant neoplastic diseases)
  • Immune system disorders like HIV/AIDS, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis

Even if your condition does not meet a Blue Book listing, you may still qualify if it severely impairs your capacity to perform job duties. The SSA will assess your residual functional capacity (RFC) – what you can still do despite your limitations – and compare it to the requirements of your past work and other jobs you could perform based on your age, education, and work experience. If the SSA finds you cannot engage in SGA, you will be considered disabled and approved for benefits.

Proving Your Disability Claim

The key to a successful disability claim is thorough, compelling medical evidence. You must have well-documented proof from acceptable medical sources like licensed physicians, psychologists, optometrists, podiatrists, and speech-language pathologists. Helpful evidence includes:

  • Physician notes detailing your diagnosis, symptoms, treatment, and response
  • Bloodwork, imaging scans, and other objective test results
  • Evaluations from physical therapy, occupational therapy, and rehabilitation
  • Prescription records
  • Mental health records like psychiatric evaluations and therapy notes
  • Statements from caregivers, family, and friends who have observed your condition

A disability attorney will identify the most persuasive evidence, collect and submit records, and craft a compelling theory for your case that demonstrates your eligibility for benefits.

What to Expect in a Disability Benefits Hearing

Most initial disability applications get denied, but that is not the end of the road. You can request a disability hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to present your case in person and get a second chance at benefits. These hearings follow strict legal procedures, however, and often involve complex medical testimony, so skilled representation is crucial.

At your hearing, the ALJ will ask you about your background, medical condition, and how it affects your daily activities and ability to work. They may also question medical and vocational experts for opinions on your diagnosis, limitations, and job prospects. Your attorney will prepare you to testify confidently, cross-examine any experts, and present legal arguments about why you meet the SSA’s disability standards.  

After the hearing, the ALJ will issue a written decision on whether to grant benefits. If your claim is approved, you will receive monthly benefit payments and may be eligible for back pay covering the months you were disabled before being approved. If you are denied again, your attorney can help you explore further appeals to the Appeals Council and federal court.

Protect Your Rights and Maximize Your Chances of Success

Living with a disability is hard enough without having to untangle complex legal knots. Let the accomplished attorneys at Disability Advocates Group handle the legal legwork and fight tirelessly for the benefits you need and deserve. We offer free consultations, no up-front fees, and only get paid if your claim is approved.  

You have paid into the disability system your entire working life, and now it should serve you when you need it most. Don’t let the challenges of the claims process stop you from seeking vital support. Contact Disability Advocates Group today to discuss your situation with an experienced disability attorney and start your journey toward a more secure future.