Top Tips to Know When Volunteering on Social Security Disability Benefits
If you’re currently receiving Social Security disability benefits, you may be wondering if you’re allowed to volunteer without jeopardizing your benefits and health insurance. The answer is—yes! Thousands of people on Social Security disability volunteer every year. Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community and feel good about the work you’re doing. Here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re considering volunteering:
1. Volunteer with an Accredited Organization
While you don’t have to necessarily volunteer with a nonprofit, you want to make sure you are not doing any volunteer work that would be otherwise paid. For example, if you “volunteer” at a law firm and file paperwork, your benefits could be in jeopardy, as you’d be performing duties most secretaries do. Cleaning up a park with a group on a Saturday, however, would be fine.
2. Consider Your Disability
If you’re receiving Social Security disability benefits for a spinal cord disorder, but volunteer at an organization where you’re required to lift heavy packages, it’s possible the SSA will re-evaluate your claim and determine if you’re really ill enough to receive benefits. You should always ensure the tasks you do while you volunteer is suitable for your disability. If it’s too much work, you can always speak with your volunteer coordinator to find something that’s a better fit for your skillset!
3. Take it Easy
Much like point #2, you should not volunteer for a significantly long time. Volunteering for a couple of hours per week is of course fine, but if you were to volunteer 80 hours per week, you’d raise some red flags at the SSA. The SSA would likely ask, “if she can volunteer for that long, why isn’t she able to find a suitable desk job instead?”
4. Don’t Volunteer for a Family Member
Again, it’s important to volunteer with a local and accredited nonprofit in your area, like the United Way. If you’re claiming to volunteer for a family-owned business, the SSA may assume that you’re actually being paid for your work and investigate your case again.
While it may seem like there’s a lot you need to watch out for, volunteering really is easy while you’re receiving disability benefits. When you’re working with a great nonprofit there is no reason to be concerned that the SSA will revoke your benefits. Cleaning up a river, reading to children, feeding the elderly, and caring for pets are just a handful of completely acceptable volunteer activities. Just be sure to not overexert yourself or perform any duties that are outside the scope of typical volunteer experience! When you volunteer, you’ll have the satisfaction of helping others that need aid and making a difference in your community. If you have any further questions regarding your Social Security and volunteer work, you can call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213 or schedule an appointment at your local SSA office.
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