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2021 Raises: SGA, SSI and Trial Work Period Limits

January 17, 2020

Updated June 7, 2021 (Transcript reflects 2021 SGA, SSI and Trial Work Period Income Limits.)

Paulette Balin explains some important information and updates happening in the Social Security world. Learn more about the:

  • 2021 updates and increases to substantial gainful activity (SGA) amounts, along with
  • Trial work period income limits for 2021, and
  • 2021 Supplemental Security Income (SSI) increases

Video Transcript

Hi, there. I’m Paulette Balin and I’m a principal here at Balin Law. I am happy to share with you the fact that Social Security has just increased the SGA level for 2021 to $1,310. It had been $1,260 and now we have an increase of $50. And what does that mean? That means that if you make less than $1,310, you can pursue your Social Security disability claim. If you gross that much or more, you don’t even pass go in the Social Security world because Social Security will not process your application. They will say you are above SGA and you do not have a viable disability claim.

So how do we work with that $1,310? Let’s say you make $3,000 a month. That’s gross. Now, we can subtract from that impairment related work expenses. We can income average if it’s over a 12 month period and you’ve got some months that your income is higher and some months lower, we can excuse some earnings as subsidized work activity.

Let’s say you’re working for a relative or a friend and you’re being paid at a much higher amount than the true value of your services, there are some things that we can do to correct the gross amount to come up under that threshold amount of $1,310. And when we do that, then your disability case is in full play.

2021 Trial Work Period Income Limit

The other number that came out is the new amount for trial work period. So if you’re off work for 12 months or have otherwise excused the work activity to less in SGA, you can make $940 a month or more and have it be considered what’s called a trial work period. You’re allowed to have nine trial work periods in a five year rolling period.

And the reason that the trial work period is important is frequently it can take two to three years if you’ve got to go through a full hearing before a judge to have your disability claim heard. As long as you’ve been off work for at least 12 months from the time you filed your application or have had it otherwise excused as an unsuccessful work attempt for example, then you can give your hand a go at a trial work period and it won’t come back to penalize you.

2021 SSI amount

I do want to also share with you that the new SSI amount has come out, and that is $794 a month. You can make an SSI if your income is low enough and if you have no countable resources, you can have a stream of income of SSI, which stands for Supplemental Security Income. And that is very powerful for many people. But again, you have to have low enough countable resources and low enough income.

In terms of countable resources, a single person still can only have $2,000. And a married couple can only have $3,000. But again, that’s a countable resource, and your home doesn’t count against you and one vehicle doesn’t count against you. So it really can get very complicated. I invite you to reach out to us. We give a free consultation and we’re happy to answer any questions you might have.



  1. Lana on July 3, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    Can a person on SSI work for a trial period or is it just SSDI. My son is thinking of trying to get involved delivering items with his van and is on SSI

    • balinlawadmin on July 8, 2021 at 6:06 pm

      Hi Lana, there is no Trial Work Period for SSI, only SSD. After $65 pass thru, 50% of work earnings are deduced from your SSI payment. -PFB

  2. April C. on February 26, 2020 at 8:26 pm

    Hello I receive ssi, 783.00 per month. I just started college, paying by financial aid as well as I had to take out a loan for college and health expenses. I am trying to get into a work study program during my educational years.
    2 questions. what exactly do I need to report in regards to school? And after receiving my associates degree in respiratory therapy, I want to begin to work as a RRT. however I am on ssi. should I do the ticket 2 work program or PASS program, or something before I graduate, or how should I go about transitioning?

    • balinlawadmin on March 17, 2020 at 3:05 pm

      Hi April,
      This is a little bit complex and specific, so we invite you to contact our office at 866-492-2546 (866-49-BALIN).

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