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How Will Working Under the Table Affect a Potential Social Security Disability Claim?

There are a number of ways that working under the table can affect your potential Social Security disability and, from my experience as a Social Security lawyer practicing in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire for over thirty (30) years, none of them are good.

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that in order to qualify for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits one must have earned sufficient quarters of coverage in order to qualify for benefits. How much one ultimately can collect for a monthly SSDI depends on 1) whether one has acquired sufficient quarters of coverage to qualify for a monthly benefit and 2) the amount of one’s monthly check directly correlates with the amount one has paid in Social Security taxed earnings. And so, failing to file an income tax return (or one that perhaps does not claim any income) for a number of years in a row can and ultimately will result in an individual being no longer insured for disability insurance benefits. Moreover, the failure to claim all of one’s income will result in a corresponding reduction in one’s primary insurance amount (or PIA), that is, the monthly amount one will ultimately collect should they be approved for disability.

If one is continuing to work while applying for Social Security benefits, it’s imperative for a number of reasons that all income earned after one’s alleged onset date is being claimed to the Social Security Administration (SSA). The failure to do so can be deemed to perpetrate a fraud. For instance, continuing to work under the table while claiming to be disabled from working is perpetrating a fraudulent claim for which the Office of Inspector General (OIG) can bring criminal charges. Likewise, SSA needs to be made aware of all sources of income for purposes of a potential Supplemental Security income (SSI) claim as benefits are based on need. Similarly, false claims can result in not only civil and/or criminal charges, but also OIG can bring seek a civil monetary penalty under the CMP statute in an amount of up to $8457.00 (as of 2019) for each false statement or omission.

It’s important to remember that bringing a disability claim before the Social Security Administration (SSA) is bringing a claim for benefits before a Federal government agency. It is not simply the loss of potential benefits that one risks, but loss of one’s credibility before SSA. Failing to claim all earned income before another Federal agency, that is, the Internal Revenue Service, is not going to over well should it become evident to proceed to a hearing down the road before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). If the ALJ determines that one has been dishonest before another Federal agency so as to gain a monetary advantage, they are certainly allowed to draw the conclusion that perhaps the same individual is willing to be dishonest with them in terms of their claim of disability so as to be approved for a Social Security disability enefit check from SSA. Likewise, the presiding ALJ will have access to one’s earnings record and may wonder why there is little to no evidence of earnings during a time period where one has claimed to be fully capable of earning an income and working.

Needless to say, claiming all of one’s income in the past helps to ensure: 1) that one remains insured for benefits for if and when they do become disabled, 2) that one will receive the highest possible montly disability check once approved for benefits and 3) that should you go to hearing down the road, there will be a picture of one’s past work history that appears consistent and honest.

For additional information as to whether you might qualify for Social Security disability benefits based on your particular earnings record, contact the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at (800) 773-8622.