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I’m Self-Employed: Can I Get Social Security Disability Benefits?

Small business owners and their entrepreneurial spirit power many small communities throughout the country. Without these companies, many of us wouldn’t have jobs, health insurance, and roofs over our heads. When one of those small business owners suffers a terrible injury, or develops a debilitating illness, they may be left in the same boat many unemployed workers are – dangerously close to losing everything. Our lawyers can provide the lifeline in the form of Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, which many business owners qualify for, but they don’t realize it.

Providing Significant Services

ssd141 - I’m Self-Employed: Can I Get Social Security Disability Benefits?

If you’re the sole proprietor or operator of your business, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will classify you as providing significant services for the purpose of benefits eligibility. If your income from the business is greater than $1,040 per month, the SSA will consider you as engaged in a “substantial gainful activity”, and rule you ineligible for disability income.

Taking a salary (or not) from your company is a key component to determining whether you can receive disability income from the federal government. Obviously, if you can still direct your company more than half the total time needed to run it each month, your injury or illness doesn’t have a significant impact on your functional capacity.

Countable Income and Disability Benefits

Other important factors considered by the SSA in determining your income is expenses against your business revenue. If you pay disability-related expenses so you can continue to your run company despite your physical limitations, including transportation to the jobsite and equipment, the SSA will subtract the cost of these expenses when determining your income. The resulting figure is your “countable income” for disability purposes.

The Comparability Test

If you do not perform significant services for your business or earn a substantial income from it, SSD examiners look into the job duties you perform for the company and the value of those duties. They examine your efficiency, time spent on the job, energy devoted to working and the type of work. If the value of that work is worth more than $1,040 per month, you won’t be eligible for disability benefits. If the worth of your duties is worth more than $1,040 per month compared to the cost of hiring someone else to do the same job, you’ll also be ineligible for federal disability aid.

Starting a Business After Receiving Benefits

Starting a business or engaging in freelance work after the SSA declares you eligible for disability benefits can affect how much you receive each month. The general rule you need to remember: if your countable income (discussed above) is less than $1,040 per month, the federal government will not terminate your benefits regardless of how many hours you spend working.

Having questions about the complicated SSD application process is normal. Our SSD lawyers in Pennsylvania can assist you with the process, keep you informed about its progress, and maximize your chances of receiving first time approval. Call us today to get the help you deserve.    


Before coming to Young, Marr & Associates, our SSD attorneys worked for the SSA which gives us an advantage over attorneys who have never dealt directly with the internal SSA system. We know the process is difficult – your job is to get better, and our job is to make sure you get the disability you deserve.

Chances are you are preoccupied dealing with a painful illness. You are concerned about your financial future, about how you will get by without a steady source of income.

Read what our clients have to say about us.


“I have already recommended Paul Young numerous times. He was honest, explained endlessly in terms that were understandable. Paul Young guided me through the process from beginning consultation to the end of case. Highly satisfied and grateful for his expertise.”


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