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Deducting Impairment-Related Work Expenses

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As a disabled person, you may run a business or work for yourself. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will deduct your impairment-related work expenses when calculating the countable income to determine whether you should get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments and how much the benefit should be. This deduction should be performed for any SSDI recipient who provides services, freelances, runs a business, consults, or makes money running rental properties or a farm. If you are concerned about deducting impairment-related work expenses, you can consult an experienced Social Security attorney with your questions.

Substantial Gainful Activity

You can’t get SSDI or SSI disability benefits if the work you perform is considered substantial gainful activity. The SSA performs certain tests to figure out whether you should be considered a person performing substantial gainful activity. In other words, these are tests that look at whether you’re making so much money you should be considered as someone who should not be getting benefits. If the SSA decides your work as an entrepreneur freelancer or business owner should be treated as substantial gainful activity, you can lose SSDI benefits, even if you were already approved.

When an SSDI recipient works, their earnings can impact their monthly benefit amount. The amount of the benefit is the difference between countable income and the federal benefit rate. However, you can subtract impairment-related work expenses from income to show your substantial gainful activity is low enough to qualify you for SSDI. Excluding impairment-related work expenses can help reduce the impact of your earnings on the amount of benefit. If you operate your own business, you can also subtract unincurred business expenses to get your substantial gainful activity lower.

Deducting Impairment-Related Work Expenses

The amount you pay to cover your impairment related work expenses won’t count against you when determining whether you are gainfully employed for Social Security Disability purposes. Your impairment-related work expenses can be deducted before calculating how much of your benefit should be reduced because you are making some money, and it can be helpful to be represented by an experienced attorney through the process of making an SSDI claim as a self-employed person or entrepreneur trying to take deductions.

Almost anything that you need to get to or from work can be declared as an impairment-related work expense. The SSA permits you to deduct the costs of services and equipment that are also used for non-work purposes such as a wheelchair or hearing aid. These can be deducted even though you use them in your personal life, as well as for work-related reasons. You can claim impairment-related expenses you are not certain about; if the SSA accepts it, the deduction will be made before your benefits are calculated. Other impairment-related work expenses include the cost of work accommodations and special transportation. However, importantly, impairment-related work expenses do not include alterations to the home that are taken as business expense deductions when the calculation is to figure out your net income. For example, if you add a wheelchair ramp to your back door to allow you to use a studio in the backyard, and you take it as a business expense, you can’t include it as an impairment-related work expense.

Other impairment-related expenses could include routine medical care, medications that impact your work performance or ability, prosthetic devices and other equipment that allow you to work, and attendant services that are performed when you are working.

Sometimes an SSDI recipient is employed by someone else and considered a wage-earner. In that case, they can deduct impairment-related work expenses, but aren’t allowed to deduct unincurred business expenses.

Consult an Experienced SSDI Attorney in Chicago

If you have questions about deducting impairment-related work expenses in Chicago, you can call us. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca, our seasoned SSDI lawyers represent those disabled in Quincy, Aurora, Champaign, and Rockford, along with Kane, Sangamon, Adams, Winnebago, and Cook Counties. We also evaluate our clients’ disabilities to figure out whether other relief in addition to SSDI may be available. Contact us at 312-724-5846 or via our online form.