There is good news for those who are disabled and receiving Disability Insurance Benefits. The Social Security Administration provides a few “work incentives” for disabled individuals who wish to test their ability to work.
These incentive are:
- Trial work period
- Extended period of eligibility
- Impairment-related work expenses
Continue reading to learn more about these options. If you have questions, encourage you to contact a knowledgeable Social Security disability lawyer near you for legal advice about your specific case.
Trial work period
For starters, you are entitled to a “trial work period.”
What this means is that you may test your ability to work for 9 months, during which you will be allowed to receive your full disability benefit, so long as you report your work and continue to have a disability.
To count as a trial work period, your monthly earnings must be at least $910 for 2020. The trial work period continues until you have accumulated 9 “trial work period” months in a 60-month period. The trial work periods don’t have to be consecutive.
There are special rules for those who are self-employed and for those who are blind. If you successfully accumulate 9 trial work period months and are engaging in substantial gainful activity, SSA should stop your benefits. There have been cases where SSA did not stop benefits and then charged the person with an overpayment.
If you are not sure if you are due a check you may wish to consult an attorney.
Extended period of eligibility
You are also entitled to an “extended period of eligibility.”
After your trial work period, you have 36 months during which you can work and receive benefits for any month your earnings are not “substantial.” For 2020, SSA uses $1,260 as the amount they will consider substantial. If your earnings fall below the substantial level, then you don’t need to file a new application to receive disability benefits again.
Impairment-related work expenses
Impairment-related work expenses are also important.
You may need items or services to assist you to work. You may need to pay for services to get to work or to stay at work. Those expenses may be deducted from your monthly earnings before SSA decides if you are still eligible for benefits. SSA will likely wish to see evidence of your expenses, such as receipts or invoices.
It’s important to understand that certain work activities may cause Social Security to scrutinize your benefits. You should be aware that SSA may investigate your case to see if you are still disabled at any time. This is called a “Continuing Disability Review.”
For example, SSA may compare a person’s earnings to a list of those who are disabled, which might generate an alert to begin the process of reviewing your claim to determine if you are still disabled.
If you receive disability benefits, you must inform SSA if you start or stop work, if your duties, hours or pay changes, or if you start paying expenses for work because of your disability. If you are considering trying to work while you receive disability benefits, we recommend you first consult an experienced attorney.