Social security disability benefits are intended for individuals who have a disability and are thus unable to work and provide for themselves as they would have if they did not get a disability. This means that inherently the program assumes your inability to work due to the disability. The system does not allow for “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) if you would like to continue to receive benefits. However, there are exceptions to this to allow you to work and have an income.
Can I Have a Trial Working Period and Still Receive My Benefits?
The SSD program allows for an individual to test out SGA for nine month trial period and still receive benefits. This allows individuals to try and immerse themselves back into the work force without penalizing them for trying. During this nine month trial period there is not an income limit, so you can try any career path that you feel you are capable of performing. To be considered a trial work month, you must be making at least $840/month (as of 2017). Or, if you are self-employed if you work over 80 hours that month, it is considered a trial month.
After the nine month trial period, you are still eligible to receive benefits for the next 36 months. The extended benefits period gives you time to adjust and build you career and savings to start off your new work life.
If you begin to earn too much money after the 9 month period, your benefits can be stopped. Earnings over $1,170 during the 36 month extension will disqualify you from receiving your benefits that month.
Once SSD payments are stopped because your income is substantial, you have a 5 year grace period in which benefits can resume if you are again unable to work due to your disability. You will not be required to reapply as long as it is within the 5 year grace period, at that point it would simply be an expedited reinstatement.
What Do I Need to Report to the SSA When I Begin Working?
All status changes in employment and income must be reported to the SSA in order to avoid delays in receiving your benefits.
Both SSDI and SSI beneficiaries are required to report the following information to the SSA:
- New employment
- Starting/Ending date for each new job
- Changes in wages
- Changes in Hours
- Work related expenses due to disability (these expenses will be deducted from your monthly earnings in the eyes of the SSA)
Working Will Lower Your Monthly Benefits
Although beginning working again does not immediately disqualify you for disability benefits, they will affect the amount of benefits you receive each month. They will adjust your benefit amounts according to your income earned.
If you are considering going back to work, it would be wise to discuss this change with a Social Security Disability Attorney before you make that change.
Call JacksonWhite at (480) 467-4395 to discuss your case today.
Schedule Your Consultation
Fill out the form below to get your consultation and discuss your best legal options.