When the wait for an appeal hearing can take 13-18 months (after waiting 3-4 months for your application to be denied), finances will inevitably become an issue. Who can live without any income for up to two years? Most people would lose everything after just a few months.
So when Clients ask me if they can work while waiting for a hearing, there are no easy answers. In most situations, if you are able to sustain full-time work for three or more months, SS will find that you are indeed able to work. However, if that work is not consistent (e.g., excessive absenteeism, low work production, poor work performance) and ends due to the limitations of your impairments, SS may find - and I would most certainly argue - that the work should not be viewed as proof of an ability to work but as proof of an inability to sustain Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).
An Unsuccessful Work Attempt (UWA) is an effort to do work in employment or self-employment that discontinues or reduces to the non-Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level after a short time (no more than 6 months) because of the impairment or the removal of special conditions related to the impairment that are essential to the further performance of work. http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0410501055
I could never advise a Client who has a family to provide for or who is faced with a car repossession or home foreclosure to not work just to win a case. I just want my Clients to be fully informed on how work income can impact their case, so they can make the best decision for their personal circumstances.
For more information, follow this link to SS's website: https://www.ssa.gov/redbook/eng/ssdi-and-ssi-employments-supports.htm
Follow the links below for more detailed information, including the Code of Federal Regulations and recent updates to evaluating an UWA that lasted three to six months.