Generally, people who are receiving disability assistance have a disabling impairment that keeps them from working. However, a person receiving SSD assistance may still be able to work if they feel up to it, and still not be disqualified from receiving payments. The Social Security Administration has several programs designed to help SSD assistance recipients return to work should they so choose.
The Trial Work Period
This is a program that allows the recipients to work for a period of nine months, non-consecutively, over 60 months, without losing their eligibility for SSD monthly checks. The recipient still receives full benefits, regardless of the amount of money earned as long as he or she reports any work activity and still has a disabling impairment. Concealing work activity while receiving benefits can actually lead to the recipient being investigated for SSD fraud. The recipient has to report when he or she starts or stops working, the pay received, work duties, hours and related expenses. The monthly earnings that trigger this program are $770 per month, that is, any month in which a recipient makes above $770 is counted towards the nine-month limit.
Extended Period of Eligibility
If a person uses up the nine months of a trial work period, they may still be able to get disability assistance while working through an extended period of eligibility. This is a period of time that starts immediately after the trial work period’s nine months are exhausted. The extension allows a benefit recipient to keep working and receive benefits, as long as the recipient does not make more than $1,070 or $1,800 for blind recipients. The recipient also still has to remain disabled. The extension lasts 36 months.
If within five years after the extended period of eligibility, a recipient finds that he or she cannot continue working due to his or her disability, he or she can reapply for benefits. The expedited reinstatement allows the recipient to receive benefits for up to six months, even as his or her medical condition is being re-evaluated. The benefits would start immediately without the recipient having to reapply for benefits.
In determining if a recipient’s earnings are higher than the threshold amounts required for the trial work period and the extended period of eligibility, a recipient may still qualify for assistance if he or she has qualifying expenses that can be subtracted from the total earnings. For example, if the recipient had to take a taxi, pay for an assistant, or make other accommodations due to his or her disability, the cost of these accommodations can be subtracted from the total before it can be determined whether or not the recipient earned too much in a particular month.
If a recipient also receives free Medicare or Medicaid due to a disabling impairment, these medical benefits may also continue despite a recipient working.
If you have a disabling impairment that causes you to be unable to work, you should look into applying for disability assistance. If you have previously applied and been rejected, you need to consult with an experienced SSD attorney. Most first-time applicants get denied, and consulting an attorney may help you get approved.