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Can You Work While on Disability?

Posted by David P. Martin | Jul 12, 2022 | 0 Comments

It is common to hear people who have a disability wishing to contribute through some type of work. When you cannot work productively, your self-esteem can be affected, and depression is often the result. Because those living with disabilities feel they can no longer utilize their education, training, or experience, you may see your situation as hopeless. To determine whether you can work while on disability, contact experienced disability lawyer David Martin at The Martin Law Group today.

Working While on Disability

Many good disability policies allow compensation for some work. It may be possible for an individual with disabilities to perform some work and still have their disability policy benefit or the Social Security benefit as a safety net. The difficulty is that employers must be willing to hire people who have disabilities. The marketplace requires competitive employment – that is, an employer desires to hire the best person for the job. The person who will be most productive and advance the interests of the business is that person. Individuals with disabilities often do not fit the bill.

How much can you make on disability?

The Fair Labor Standards Act in section 14(c) authorizes employers who obtain a certificate from the wage and hour division to pay a subminimum wage – that is less than $7.25 per hour. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD), a worker who has disabilities “for the job being performed” is one whose earning or productive capacity is impaired by a physical or mental disability, including those relating to age or injury. Section 14(c) does not apply unless the disability impairs the worker's earning or productive capacity for the work being performed.

If a person with a disability can perform the job, but not competitively as compared to an individual without that disability, that individual may be employed and paid a subminimum wage (SMW). However, a disability alone is not enough – it must be a disability that impacts the ability to do that job. The application of this exception is broad, as it includes not only physical and mental disabilities but also education disabilities, chronic unemployment, receipt of welfare benefits, nonattendance at school, juvenile delinquency, and correctional parole or probation.

The requirement is that the employer obtain a certificate for the work being performed. The process is started with a completed application (Form WH-226-MIS, Application for Authority to Employ Workers with Disabilities at Subminimum Wages).

In strong economic times, many employers consider this to be too much trouble. However, in this period of the “Great Resignation” and with “hiring now” signs in a significant number of businesses, it may be time for further investigation.

About the Author

David P. Martin

Senior & Managing Attorney


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