To qualify for SSI disability benefits, an applicant must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity. If an applicant is denied benefits at the initial and reconsideration levels, the applicant may request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). While SSI applicants may work after applying for disability benefits, earnings during this period should be considered by an ALJ.
In 56 (60 percent) of 94 cases we reviewed with earnings posted before a hearing decision, the ALJs did not address the earnings in their written decisions. Also, SSA did not consider the effect of earnings posted after a favorable hearing decision on the recipients' eligibility or SSI payment amount in 14 (78 percent) of 18 cases. See the full report below for more information.