If you are an SSDI beneficiary and have worked in the past while receiving your benefits or are currently working, there is an important Social Security form you should be familiar with called a ‘Work Activity Report – Employee’ (form SSA-821). Social Security uses a Work Activity Report to document work activity, meaning when and where you worked and how much you earned, and to document work incentives like Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWE) and Subsidies and Special Conditions. This information is used by Social Security to make determinations about whether your work activity and earnings represented Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) and whether you are eligible to receive your SSDI benefit payments. The Work Activity Report is an important tool- in fact the most important tool– for reporting your earnings and work incentives and keeping your Social Security record up-to-date.

Social Security should mail a beneficiary a Work Activity Report to be completed at a point in time that they determine its necessary to update the individual’s record. If an individual never reported to Social Security that they started working in the first place, however, Social Security often won’t know that the record needs to be updated and thus the Work Activity Report isn’t sent in a timely manner. When Social Security is months or even years late in processing this information, it can lead to potential overpayment of benefits that the beneficiary needs to pay back. But beneficiaries don’t need to wait for Social Security to mail a Work Activity Report! They can access this form online at www.ssa.gov (or click here) and submit it to SSA at different milestones after employment has started to report earnings and work incentives and try to avoid overpayments. These milestones for submitting a Work Activity Report are best left to be determined with the help of a Benefits Counselor, however, can often include;

  1. Having started a new job when there was previous work that was unreported to SSA;
  2. Within their 9th month of working;
  3. Whenever earnings are above the SGA guideline for the year;
  4. When there is a change in hours, earnings, or work incentives to be reported.


A few things to know…

It is important to know that by signing and submitting a Work Activity Report, you are authorizing Social Security to contact your current and/or former employers to collect information about your work activity. Social Security may contact an employer to verify wages or verify the presence and value of a reported subsidy. If you do not want SSA to contact your employer, you should not sign the form and will need to submit a separate signed statement indicating that you do not authorize SSA to contact employers directly.  Whenever submitting a Work Activity Report, remember to always keep a copy of this form for your own records. And for those individuals who are self-employed, you will complete a similar but different form called a ‘Work Activity Report – Self Employment’ (form SSA-820) to report work activity and work incentives available online here.