Volunteering and Public Benefits

Many people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities volunteer, even people who receive public benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Volunteering for a few hours a month will not change or stop you from receiving benefits, but these activities must follow the Social Security Administration’s rules on how much and what type of work you can do. Here are some of the rules:

  • Any volunteer work that you do cannot not be the same as the work that you would do for a job where you are paid
  • If you were to be paid for the work that you do, the value of what you do cannot be more than $1,170 per month
  • You cannot not make more than $1,170/month doing this work (if you receive a stipend)
  • You cannot work at a company owned by a relative
  • You cannot spend more than a few hours a week at the job

If you don’t follow these rules, the Social Security Administration may think you are able to work full or part time and change or take away your benefits.

However, even if you do decide to work, the Social Security Administration has a nine-month trial period where you can decide whether or not you feel you can continue to work.

If you have questions about how much or whether volunteering will impact your public benefits, talk to a trusted family, friend, or supporter. Or, contact a local chapter of The Arc for assistance.