COVID19 is changing our lives on a near hourly basis. One of the biggest aspects that is being impacted is employment. Many people, for example in the hospitality and retail industries, have been laid off indefinitely. Others, like grocery store employees and healthcare workers, have seen an increase in the expectations of their jobs. If you have experienced a change in your employment due to COVID19, here are some steps you need to consider.
If you have been laid off, either temporarily or permanently, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance. You can find out more and apply for unemployment here.
Additionally, if you have been laid off or had your hours reduced, and you receive SSI or SSDI, you should report the change in employment to the Social Security Administration. This is especially necessary if you receive SSI and may now be eligible to receive a larger amount, or if you were previously working over Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA, current $1260 per month) and will now be under SGA, possibly making you eligible to receive SSDI again. SSA field offices are currently closed to the public, but these changes can be reported by calling 1-800-772-1213 or by visiting SSA online at ssa.gov. Please be advised that the phone system may currently be overwhelmed, so online reporting is preferable. If you need to report changes over the phone, please be patient with extended wait times.
It is important to note that if you apply for unemployment, and are approved, unemployment does not count as earnings when determining eligibility for your SSDI check. However, it is considered unearned income and is factored in to determining the amount of SSI for which someone is eligible. The same is true of any severance pay one might receive as a result of having been laid off.
As previously mentioned, some fields are seeing an increase in workload as a result of COVID19. If you are now earning higher wages or working more hours as a result of COVID19, you may not be eligible for as much SSI as you have been receiving, or you may now find yourself working over SGA (again, $1260 per month), which could impact your eligibility for SSDI for the month. To avoid an overpayment, please continue to report your wages to SSA.
If you have questions about how your changes in employment may impact your SSI or SSDI, please reach out to your benefits counselor directly, or contact us.