Millions of people in America live with a disability. It’s hard to make a living from home. It is especially challenging to make a living while trying to cope with a disability. How do disabled people make money from home?
Many Americans with disabilities do have access to some financial support. For example, they get help from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. However, they may still struggle to handle the cost of living when using those programs alone.
Plus, not everyone with a physical or mental health condition qualifies for SSDI or SSI support. As a result, many people with disabilities seek out work to help cover the difference. Many people seek ways to make money from home.
Different Types of Disability
There are different types of disability support for people in this country. There are two types of social security disability income: SSI and SSDI. SSI for people with limited work history. SSDI is for people who have a work history. See more about the differences between the two programs here. There is also Veteran Disability.
How Much You Can Make While on Social Security Disability?
If you do receive SSDI benefits then it’s very important that you understand your rights and limitations when it comes to earning an income. If you’re able to earn enough on your own, then you will cease to qualify for that financial support.
The Social Security Administration may stop paying out your benefits if you work to the point that they consider “substantial.” In 2020, a “substantial” income is an average monthly earning that hits or crosses the $1,260 mark. That means you have to make less than $15,120 a year to maintain your SSDI benefits. The only exception is for individuals who are blind. The SSDI benefits cutoff for blind individuals is $2,110 per month, or $25,320 a year.
As long as your earned income from working at home stays below those amounts, you can continue to receive SSDI benefits. However, you do have to keep the Social Security Administration informed when you start or stop working while receiving SSDI or SSI.
If you have specific questions about working while on SSDI or SSI, you can call the Social Security Administration at 1-866-968-7842 (1-866-833-2967 for the deaf or hearing impaired) and discuss your options. You can also head to the Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work website for additional information. This is a free, voluntary program that assists people in reaching gainful employment despite disability.
How Much You Can Make While Receiving VA Disability Compensation?
Veterans who become ill or injured while serving in the military may have access to disability compensation through the US Department of Veterans Affairs. This is separate from SSDI and SSI, and the program has different rules than the Social Security Administration programs.
After becoming ill or sustaining an injury while serving, veterans are assigned a disability rating. Usually, this is a percentage. It is on a scale that goes from 10 percent to 100 percent in 10 percentage point increments. There is also a secondary score; the Individual Unemployability Rating. This metric evaluates whether a veteran’s disabilities prevent them from being gainfully employed. Regardless of whether they have a disability rating of 100 percent.
Legally, veterans can work with a 100 percent disability rating. However, those that aren’t considered able to work under the Individual Unemployability rating cannot take part in “substantial gainful employment.” In order to stay under the “substantial gainful employment” threshold, veterans have to be considered “marginally” employed or less. “Marginal employment” means keeping your earned annual income below the poverty threshold for an individual, as set by the US Department of Commerce each year.
Those with questions about income limits and their VA disability compensation eligibility can contact the VA at 844-698-2311. A representative can discuss your situation and give you details based on your specific case. To summarize, you can work while on veteran disability but how much you can earn depends on your specific case and the disability score assigned to you.
How to Make Money from Home If You’re Disabled
For many people with disabilities, the idea of working from home is enticing. It gives you the ability to earn an income and remain in a familiar environment or space that has a design specifically based on your unique needs. Thanks to the rise of the digital world and the gig economy, there are numerous ways to make a living from the comfort of your house.
However, which options will work best for you may depend on the nature of your disability and the number of hours you are comfortable working. As a result, you’ll need to determine whether the options below feel viable to you, as only you can judge your capabilities. After all, there are many ways that disabled people make money from home but not all are right for every person.
Freelance Writing, Web Design, Programming, and More
Freelancing is one of the most flexible working arrangements out there. You can pick projects that align with your skills, limit your workload according to your comfort level and income targets, and handle all of your tasks from home.
There is a variety of freelancing categories available too. While writing articles or blog posts for a person or company is one option, many other technical projects can fall in this category as well. If you have web design skills, then creating sites for others might work. If you have some programming know-how, then you could create or customize software and applications. Essentially, if you can perform your work at a computer and deliver it online, there could be a freelance role that could work for you. If you want to see what is available, check out some of the leading freelance websites such as Upwork and Guru.
Website and Smartphone App Testing
If you enjoy sharing your opinion, have access to a computer or smartphone, and can only work for short periods, then becoming a website and app tester could be a great option. Sites like UserTesting pay people from all walks of life to take a look at sites and apps, try out various functions, and give their opinion. Usually, all you need to be able to do is speak into a microphone and navigate the website or app.
The number of opportunities you have access to will vary. Like many survey sites, your demographic information, knowledge of a particular subject, or similar details can screen you in or out of any project. However, these options often pay much more than regular surveys. At UserTesting, the minimum for completing a test is $10 (for about 20 minutes of work), and some pay much higher, particularly if they are lengthy or involve a voice-based interview with a representative.
Tutors can make reasonable wages while working from home. Sites like Tutor.com and Care.com connect people who have knowledge on various subjects to people who need help grasping them. Some programs focus on tutoring children, while others include teens and young adults. Similar to freelancing, you maintain a lot of control over your schedule and rates, giving you limit your workload if the need arises.
If you have a college degree, and you find that you enjoy tutoring, then you might even want to go through the steps to get certified as a teacher. There are many online schools these days that will hire you if you are in a position to commit to the work load. Some offer part-time and flexible schedules so disabled people make money from home despite their potential limitations.
Virtual Assistants and Customer Service Reps
Virtual assistants and customer services reps do the same kind of work as their in-office counterparts, but they do it from the comfort of their own home. In most cases, virtual assistants support a management-level employee or business owner with a range of tasks, including anything from coordinating meetings to answering email and more.
On the customer service side, you may take phone calls from customers or provide chat-based support. Often, you handle tasks by remotely logging into the company’s system, allowing you to access critical data like customer account information to address their issue. While you may find freelancing opportunities in this category, there are also long-term permanent positions in these niches. This could provide you with a steady income and a set schedule, which some may find ideal.
FlexJobs is a popular platform for a range of remote opportunities, so consider starting your search there. If you may need some training first, NTI@Home has programs that assist individuals with disabilities in growing their skills and finding suitable opportunities.
Many companies hire consultants to help them solve problems and find new pathways toward success. If you have a level of expertise in a field like technology, finance, or legal, then you may be able to offer up your knowledge in exchange for a fee. The arrangements are similar to any freelancing opportunity, giving you the ability to pick projects, set your price, and limit your workload according to your needs. Both Upwork and FlexJobs list freelance opportunities.
Selling Handmade Creations
If you have a knack for crafting, creating art, or something similar, then you may be able to make items at home and sell them online. Sites like Etsy give people from around the world a platform for selling handmade wares, allowing you to handle everything from the comfort of your house.
Plus, Etsy gives you the option to print shipping labels for sold items at home. This means you can sell your creation and get it shipped without having to make a trip to the post office. Instead, you’ll just need to make a phone call or submit a request online to coordinate pickup. Plus, you can even get some free shipping supplies from the United States Postal Service delivered straight to your door, making it easier to ensure you don’t run out of boxes.
Rent Your Home or Parking Space
Another way disabled people can make money from home is to rent out a spare room or parking space. This could be a bedroom in your home or an extra parking space in your home or apartment building if you have one. Both of these don’t require a lot of paperwork and can be set up with a moderate amount of effort. Housing is typically more valuable in better neighborhoods close to transportation. Car rental spots are more valuable in business areas. Platforms like AirBnB and Spothero, Safetradebinaryoptions have simplified this process.
Things to Consider Before Getting a New Job
All of these jobs might be good options for you if you want to work from home while on disability. There are also plenty of other options for people in today’s world when so much work can be done from home. However, there are some things that you should take into consideration:
What Are Your Specific Needs?
Many people with disabilities struggle with specific needs that can limit the work that they do. This doesn’t mean you can’t work. However, getting honest with yourself about those needs in advance can go a long way towards helping you choose the right work from home opportunity for you.
For example, chronic illness and mental health challenges often leave people with little energy throughout the day. You will have to choose work accordingly. You simply might not be able to work more than one or two hours per day, which will rule out some types of jobs. Don’t let that frustrate you; simply use it as a realistic guideline for choosing the right kinds of jobs to rule in!
What Do You Love to Do?
Working from home isn’t just about earning money. It’s about adding to your quality of life. Take the time to do some internal assessment of the type of work that really excites you. When you’re motivated and passionate about your work, it makes going to the job that much easier (even if “going to” is simply virtual.)
In fact, you might want to see what work is available in your area related to your disability, if that’s a cause that you care about. For example, someone who has worked through mental health issues in the past might want to see about getting a chat support job at a crisis hotline or working as a virtual assistant for a therapist.
Paint your dreams big. Let your disability’s limitations guide you but not restrict you.
Get Training, Education, and Marketing Support
You might have to do a little bit of work to get ready for the job that you want to have. There is a lot of support out there. You may need some training to prepare for a job that you haven’t done before. Or you might need to get a certification through an online school program. Or perhaps you just need help updating your resume. Check with your local disability services organizations, small business association, and libraries to see if they offer the kind of help that you need.
Stick To What Is Legal
Some people may suggest that disabled people can make money from home by working “under the table” jobs. An “under the table” job basically means that you are paid in cash to avoid tax and reporting requirements. Some people find this appealing because it they think it won’t count against SSDI or VA disability compensation benefit thresholds. However, this kind of work is highly illegal tax evasion. Don’t be tempted to work under the table.
Ultimately, all of the options above can be viable for anyone with a disability who wants to make money from home. Just make sure you contact any agency that is providing you with disability compensation or benefits before you begin. The rules about working while on disability can be strict. You want to ensure that you handle the entire process properly to keep your benefits intact.
Bonus: Couponchief.com has a very nice savings guide and list of financial resources for those with disabilities. Click here to read it.
Readers, do you have advice that can help disabled people make money from home? Tell us about it in the comments below.
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Kathryn Vercillo is a professional writer with more than a decade of experience writing about healthy living and personal finance. She lives in San Francisco, where she has learned to maximize frugal living tips in order to thrive as a freelancer in one of the nation’s most expensive cities. When she’s not writing, she’s exploring the city on foot with her rescue dog. Learn more about her at www.kathrynvercillo.com. Kathryn also writes about saving money with coupons over at GroceryCouponGuide.com .