If I Go Back to Work, Can I Still Get Social Security Disability Benefits?

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Posted by Corey Luedeman

Many Social Security Disability recipients would rather work than rely on a monthly disability payment.  If you feel you are ready to try to work again, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has a program called Ticket to Work.  This program lets disability recipients attempt to go back to work on a trial basis without losing their disability benefits.

The type of benefits you receive determine the rules you have to follow.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the Trial Work Period

The trial work period lets you test your ability to work for at least nine months.  They don’t have to be nine months in a row, either.  During this time, you will still receive your full disability benefit payment IF:

  1. You tell the SSA that you are working, AND
  2. You are still disabled by the SSA’s rules.

In 2019, a trial work month is considered any month where you make over $880 pre-tax.  If you work for more than nine months earning at least the $880 each month, then your trial work period is over.  After your trial work period, you still have 36 months where you can work and still receive benefits for any month your earnings aren’t over $1,220.

If you don’t make at least $1,220 that month, you can still receive a disability check for that month without having to reapply or be ruled disabled.  However, if you make over $1,220 that month, you will not receive a disability check.

The SSA rules allow for a 3 month grace period after the first trial work period ends and before the extended period begins.

If your benefits stop because of your earnings, but then you find you can no longer work anymore because of your condition, you have five years to ask the SSA to restart your benefits.  They will review your condition to ensure you are still disabled under their rules, but you don’t need to reapply or wait for benefits to start.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Work Incentives

SSI benefits are a little different.  Because the SSI program is a needs-based program, you can only receive benefits if:

  1. You are disabled according to the SSA’s rules, AND
  2. Have less than $2,000 in assets.

You may continue to receive payments until you exceed the SSI monthly income and asset limits.

The SSA will begin to reduce the amount of benefits they give you depending on how much you receive from your job.  If your income is only from your job, the SSA does not include the first $85 of your countable income.  After the first $85, the SSA deducts 1 dollar for every 2 dollars that you earn.

So for example, let’s say you make $1000 in a month.  After the first $85, the SSA will deduct half of what you earn from your monthly benefits.  $1,000 – $85 = $915.  Then if you divide $915 by 2, you get $457.50.  That means your monthly benefit amount would be reduced by $457.50.

It can be complicated to understand Social Security’s rules when it comes to SSI benefits.  If you have questions, you should contact an experienced Social Security Disability attorney.

We encourage people to try to work if they can.  However, that may not be an option for you.  If you find that you can’t work, and have applied for disability benefits and been denied, we may be able to help.  Call RSH Legal today at 1-319-774-1783 and get a free consultation with an experienced Iowa Social Security Disability lawyer.

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