#DisabilitySelfEmployment: How self-employment can help you qualify for SSDI and Medicare

Most families we work with here, in the states, are concerned about qualifying and keeping SSI benefits. While we agree that’s important, is that the only government program that you should concern yourself with? Did you know that it’s possible to qualify for both SSI and SSDI? If you want to maximize your benefits we encourage you to do your homework.

In 2018 an individual will earn a quarter of SSDI coverage for every $1,320 he/she earns in a calendar year, up to a maximum of 4 quarters/year. These are called work credits. Before the age of 24, you only need 6 work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits if you meet the disability criteria and the person must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). For 2018 the monthly SGA limit for non-blind individuals is $1,180.

https://www.ssa.gov/planners/disability/dqualify2.html | https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/sga.html


“Anything worth fighting for comes at a price.” (Anna Mendez)


We will use our son as an example. He will be 17 years old in 2018. Since he is under the age of 24 he only needs 6 work credits to qualify for SSDI. Our son is establishing his own business so, he will be self-employed. What the Social Security Administration (SSA) will look at are the Net Earnings from Self-Employment (NESE). NESE is based on the business profit, no matter how much the business owner takes as a draw.

NESE is calculated as follows:

Gross income – expenses= Net Profit

Net Profit x .9235 = NESE

(https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0500820210 )

Here’s an example:

$ 8,000 Gross Revenues

[-] 2,000 Expenses

$ 6,000 Net Profit

x .9235

$ 5,541 NESE

In this example, our son would earn enough money to earn all 4 work credits for one calendar year. His NESE must be at least $5,280 in 2018 to earn all 4 work credits ($1,320 for each credit; a maximum of 4 work credits/year). But wait, there’s more! Do you know what the additional perk is of receiving SSDI? After receiving SSDI benefits for two years, a disabled person may be eligible for Medicare benefits! It is possible to qualify for all government programs simultaneously: SSI, SSDI, Medicaid and Medicare. This is usually referred to as concurrent benefits.

If you are a parent or advocate for someone with a disability or if you are a self-advocate, don’t rely on SSA or any government agency to tell you what you may qualify for. It’s your responsibility to research, ask questions and educate yourself.


By Picasso Einstein LLC, a self-employment education and consulting firm for individuals with developmental disabilities.

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