Many people who receive Social Security disability benefits are interested in performing volunteer work, and it’s not hard to see why. Research has shown that volunteering can improve your mood, provide you with a sense of purpose, and reduce your risk of developing a number of serious health conditions in the future. But, it’s important to understand how volunteering could affect your disability benefits before signing up to help.
What Is A Substantial Gain Activity?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) distributes benefits to disabled individuals who can no longer engage in substantial gain activity. Typically, substantial gain activity is considered work that brings in a certain monthly income. However, volunteer work is also considered a substantial gain activity under certain circumstances.
The SSA will discontinue your benefits if your volunteer work is considered a substantial gain activity. For this reason, it’s important to learn which types of volunteer work will affect your benefits.
When Volunteer Work is Considered A Substantial Gain Activity
There are no specific guidelines that the SSA uses when determining whether or not volunteer work is a substantial gain activity. But in general, the SSA will consider several factors when making this decision.
First, the SSA will look at the number of hours you are volunteering per week. If the number is high, the SSA may classify your volunteer work as a substantial gain activity. The SSA will also consider how much you would be paid for the work if it was not a volunteer position. If a regular employee in your position would be paid above the SSA’s monthly income limits, the work will most likely be considered substantial.
The SSA will also analyze the nature of the volunteer work. The SSA could find that your ability to perform the volunteer work proves you are capable of performing paid work. In this case, the volunteer work is a substantial gain activity.
What Types of Volunteer Work Will Not Affect Disability Benefits?
Volunteering with programs covered by the Domestic Volunteer Service Act will not affect your eligibility for disability benefits. Some of the programs covered by this legislation include the Foster Grandparent Program, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, and Volunteers in Service to America. Look for opportunities in your community if you are interested in giving back without giving up your disability benefits.
The attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. have years of experience helping disabled individuals obtain the benefits they need. Let our team guide you through the process of applying for benefits. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.