Can I Get Disability Benefits If I’m Self-Employed?

If you're self employed you pay into social security

When you are injured in the course of employment, in most cases you have the benefit of workers’ compensation insurance to cover your medical bills as you work to get well once again. However, those who are self-employed often don’t have their own workers’ compensation, and as independent contractors aren’t covered by the insurance of those with whom they contract.

This can present a problem if you are injured while working, but you do have options in the form of state and federal disability benefits. Learn about disability benefits for the self-employed and the importance of a disability benefits lawyer in getting covered for your injury.

Self-employment And Disability

Those who are self-employed pay a special tax called the self-employment tax, or SECA. This covers the social security and FICA taxes that an employer would normally pay for you in the course of traditional work. If you have paid these taxes for many years, as a result, you may be eligible for SSDI, or Social Security Disability Insurance, should you be injured and disabled in the course of work.

Determining Eligibility

When you’re self-employed, the Social Security Agency will only cover you for disability if they determine that you are engaged in SGA, or Substantial Gainful Activity. There are three qualifications that you must fill in order to be SGA-eligible. These include:

Significant Services and Substantial Income

It must be demonstrated that you are either the sole owner or employee of your business or that you contribute more than half the time required to manage the business (generally 46 or more hours per month). Your average earnings must also be more than $1,130 per month, or be similar to what other non-disabled people in similar work make in your community. This is called a “wage cut off.”


If you do not meet the first qualification, the SSA will look at whether you perform work comparable to that of other unimpaired people in the community.

Worth of Work

In addition to comparability, if you do not meet qualification #1, you must also do work that is worth at least the minimum wage cutoff.

Tests for Continued Benefits

Other tests that the SSA may use to determine your eligibility for continued SSDI after you start receiving benefits include the following:

Countable Income

If you start a new business or commence freelance work after benefits begin, you may still receive benefits from SSDI if your income does not meet the wage cutoff.

Trial Work

You may commence full-time self-employment and still remain at the SGA level for continued benefits for up to nine months before your SSDI benefits are reduced. However, you are required to let the SSA know whether or not you are still disabled.

Contact a Disability Benefits Lawyer

Of course, these restrictions can present a lot of problems and many people find their benefits unfairly denied or canceled. Fighting for social security when self-employed is tricky and complex. It requires comprehensive and thorough legal knowledge of the kind only a Winston-Salem disability benefits lawyer can provide.

If you are fighting a battle to receive disability benefits and need help, don’t wait. Contact our office for a consultation of your case today.

Call 866-299-1769 or use the Free Case Evaluation form to schedule a free consultation.
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