The simple answer is yes. However, that “yes” is followed by some very important limitations and rules that apply to your work. You should always speak with your attorney if you plan to work while your appeal is pending. While you technically may be allowed to do some work under Social Security’s rules, that doesn’t mean that working will not affect your case. This only makes sense because the very definition of “disability” is an inability to perform “substantial gainful activity.” So how exactly does working during your appeal affect your claim? I tend to think of this work as falling into three broad categories:
Earning at least $1,000 per month gross and working over 6 months: This is going to have a huge impact on your case and has the very real possibility of making you ineligible to receive ongoing disability benefits. All hope is not lost, however. If you were out of work for at least 12 months, you may qualify for a closed period.
Earning at least $1,000 per month gross and working less than 6 months: This is an issue that is going to require some attention and explanation. However, as long as you worked less than 6 months, Social Security may call this an unsuccessful work attempt. That means that you won’t automatically be disqualified from drawing benefits based solely on the work you performed. This can be a complicated issue. There will be more on this topic to come.
Earning less than $1,000 per month gross: This won’t automatically disqualify you for benefits. However, the ALJ will need an explanation of what type of work you were doing. For example, he or she will want to know how many hours you worked, how many days per week, what your duties were, etc.
These are only the three broad categories that I use to categorize work performed while an appeal is pending. An experienced attorney can help you sort out the specific issues that will arise if work while your appeal is appending. Make sure to tell your attorney about any work you are performing and always save your check stubs!