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In 2015 (the most recent year for which statistics are available), 15 million people, or 10.1 percent of the American workforce, was self-employed. Texas was right in line with the national average with 10% of the workers in this state being self-employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If you are self-employed or work as an independent contractor or freelancer, do you still qualify for Social Security disability benefits? And what happens if you suffer from an injury, illness, or health condition that prevents you from continuing to work for an extended period of time?

Is Social Security Disability an Option for You?

Whether or not you are eligible for Social Security disability payments when you are self-employed depends on several factors, including:

  • How long you have been in the workforce.
  • Whether or not you have reported your income to the government.
  • Whether you have paid your Social Security taxes.
  • Whether you have a qualifying disability that is expected to last longer than a year (or that is fatal).

When you are employed by another entity, your Social Security taxes are usually taken out of your paycheck. When you are self-employed, you are responsible for reporting your income and paying your Social Security taxes. As long as you pay in to the system, you have the same right to Social Security disability benefits as workers who are employed by others.

What If You Are Still Doing Some Work?

For people who are employed by others, the Social Security Administration uses a specific dollar amount to determine if they are engaged in substantial gainful activity and, therefore, able to work. The same rules do not apply to the self-employed, however. Instead, the Social Security Administration will perform a countable income test to determine if you engage in substantial gainful activity.

You are entitled to a trial work period, however, just like people who are employed by others.

Do you have questions about self-employment and disability benefits? Call our experienced Social Security disability lawyers today for more information and download a FREE copy of our report, Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know.

Morgan Weisbrod  LLP

by Paul B. Burkhalter
Managing Partner of Morgan Weisbrod , Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.


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