We consider it a complete success if you are able to return to work.
How does working affect your Social Security disability benefits?
At Tree Law Office, we are often asked by our clients, “What will happen to my benefits if I try to work again?” Before answering that, we should state that we always encourage all of our clients to work as much as possible. There are a couple of reasons for this. People tend to feel better about themselves when they are working. Also, from a purely economic perspective, most people will make more money by working than they may be entitled to from Social Security disability benefits alone.
The remainder of this article is intended for those people who have already been approved for and are or were receiving disability benefits and are thinking about trying to go back to work. There are other rules applicable to people who are still waiting to be approved.
Disabled People Receiving Title II = Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) = SSDI*
Trial Work Period (TWP)
During a rolling five year period after disability is established, you are entitled to work nine TWP months. A TWP month is any calendar month during which earnings exceed $700 per month (for 2009). During the TWP, you can work and earn any amount of money, and you will still be entitled to receive your full DIB benefit amount. After nine months, which do not have to be consecutive, benefits will end. The TWP starts the first month you are eligible for SSDI benefits or the month in which you filed for benefits, whichever is later.
Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE)
After the nine TWP months have been exceeded, you are entitled to a 36 month EPE. During this EPE, if earnings fall below Substantial Gainful Activity
[SGA ($980 in 2009)] and you continue to have a disabling impairment, then benefits can be restarted automatically without a new application.If you are eligible for benefits on the 37th month, then you will continue to be eligible for benefits until you work a month at SGA levels or medically recover.
Disabled People Receiving Title XVI = SSI
Under SSI rules, any income that you have will likely reduce your SSI payment. In addition, your resources (money or the things you own) cannot be worth more than $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 per couple.
The amount of your SSI payments is based on how much other income you have. When your other income goes up, your SSI payments usually go down. So when you earn more than the SSI limit, your payments will stop for those months. But your payments will automatically start again for any month your income drops to less than the SSI limits as long as you are still disabled. Just tell your local Social Security office if your earnings are reduced or if you stop working.
If your only income besides SSI is the money you make from your job, then SSA does not count the first $85 of your monthly earnings. They deduct 50 cents of every dollar you earn after the $85 deduction from your SSI payments.
Here is an example: You work and earn $1,000 in a month. You receive no other income besides your earnings and your SSI. Social Security would not count the first $85 of your monthly earnings, so you would have $915 of countable income for that month. Dividing by 2 would give you $457.50.$457.50 is the amount that would be deducted from your SSI check for that month.
Disabled People No Longer Receiving DIB or SSI
Expedited Reinstatement of Benefits
If your benefits ended because you worked and had earnings, you can request to have benefits started again without having to complete a new application. You can request that benefits start again if you:
· Stopped receiving SSDI or SSI benefits because of earnings from work;
· Are not performing SGA in the month client requests reinstatement;
· Are unable to work or perform SGA because of medical condition;
· Have an impairment(s) that is the same as, or related to, the impairment(s) that allowed client to get benefits earlier; and
· Request reinstatement within 5 years from the month SSA terminated entitlement or eligibility.
While SSA determines whether you can get benefits again, SSA can give you provisional (temporary) benefits for up to 6 months. These benefits include payments and Medicare/Medicaid coverage. If SSA denies your request, they will not ask for repayment of the provisional benefits unless you knew or should have known that you did not qualify for reinstatement.
After request for expedited reinstatement has been approved, once benefits have been payable for 24 months, which do not have to be consecutive, you get a new TWP and new EPE.
We hope that this article has answered your questions about returning to work. If you need additional information or a consultation, please contact our office.
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