While not strictly legal, people decide to agree to be paid under the table for a vast array of reasons. While it is not recommended that you ever agree to terms of payment of this type, many people nevertheless do. In some instances they may have outstanding debts and are subject to a wage garnishment. In some cases, the work might be minimal and the parties may decide to “handle it in cash”. In other situations, they may not be legally permitted to work in the United States. In still other situations the individual may have decided to use an alias or other identity for their own reasons. In any case, these decisions can negatively impact, or foreclose, your ability to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD, SSDI, DI) benefits.
At the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak, we work with hard-working Arkansans who, through a run of bad luck often involving serious injury or illness, can no longer work. We strive to find legal solutions to your disability-induced concerns and problems. A Fayetteville AR disability lawyer is here to help you.
What are the program requirements for SSD?
In the context of a worker who has been paid under the table, the non-medial program requirements are the chief reason they would be ineligible for the SSD program. However, it is essential to remember that, to qualify, one must satisfy both the non-medical and medical requirements of the SSD program. However, for the purposes of this article we will focus on the non-medical program requirements
To qualify for SSD you must earn less than a certain amount of income, on average, each month. This income is called substantial gainful activity by the Social Security Administration. The limit on monthly SGA for 2014 is $1,800 for a blind individual and $1070 for any other impairment or disability. For 2015 the limit on SGA is $1820 monthly for a blind individual and $1090 for all other disabilities.
When an individual is working under the table, in whole or in part, their reported income is typically minimal. Therefore, this particular requirement is not usually a problem for those who work under the table.
The second program requirement is that you must be a US citizen or fulfill certain residency requirements to qualify for SSD. Generally speaking non-citizens who are permanent residents can qualify if they fulfill all other program requirements. If you are not a citizen or a permanent resident, you can still qualify if you can meet one of the exceptions enumerated in 8 U.S.C. § 1611(b). These exceptions include:
- Emergency medical assistance under title XIX of the Social Security Act when it does not involve an organ transplant.
- Short-term, in-kind disaster relief.
- Public assistance for immunizations and containment of communicable diseases
- An alien who is lawfully present in the United States as determined by the Attorney General, to any benefit if nonpayment of such benefit would contravene an international agreement described in section 233 of the Social Security Act.
While there are other exceptions, including that many foreign workers are eligible, none of them are particularly straight-forward and they are typically best discussed after a close and careful review or your status and circumstances.
The third, and most vexing, program requirement for SSD applicants who worked under the table is the work credit requirement. A work credit is something of a badge that you have paid your FICA payroll tax for the quarter. A worker may earn up to 4 work credits per a year; generally speaking, the later the onset of an impairment or injury, the greater the number of work credits that are required. If you have only worked under the table for brief periods or if the decision to do so is recent, you still may be able to qualify. However, because the SSD program is an insurance program, you must have paid sufficient amounts into the system to qualify. In short, this requirement is, most often, the one that is fatal to a SSD benefits application. However a careful analysis of your work history by an experienced SSD attorney may reveal exculpatory circumstances. Even if you do not qualify for SSD, you may still qualify for SSI which does not have a work requirement or other federal or Arkansas state aid.
Put our Social Security Disability experience to work for you in Bentonville
As you can probably already see being paid under the table, in itself, can make receiving SSD benefits difficult. But, in general, the length of time you have worked under the table in relation to your age at the disability’s onset is often the most important non-medical predictor of whether you will qualify. When combined with some of the factors that may have necessitated working under the table in the first place, it is clear that receiving SSD benefits will not be straight-forward and may require multiple appeals and strategic advocacy. To schedule your free and confidential SSD consultation, contact the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak by calling (479) 316-0438 or contact us online.