Millions of disabled American workers rely on Social Security Disability Insurance to make ends meet. If you are one of them, you may want to test your ability to work with a part-time- or full-time job. If what’s holding you back is a fear of losing your benefits, the Northern California disability lawyers at Sackett and Associates have good news for you.
The Social Security Administration has rules for working while on SSDI that allow you to work part-time or full-time without jeopardizing your monthly benefits. Imagine returning to work during a trial period and keeping what you earn without it reducing your SSDI payment.
This blog post explains the rules for disability benefits payable through the SSDI program that encourage you to attempt a return to work. You’ll learn how the rules work and how to use them without losing the SSDI benefits you depend upon.
Substantial Gainful Activity And The SSDI Program
Social Security administers the SSDI program to assist people who become disabled after working long enough and paying Social Security taxes on their earnings to qualify for monthly benefits. The amount of monthly SSDI benefits depends on your earnings history.
You must meet the following criteria for Social Security to determine that you have a disability that qualifies for SSDI benefits:
- You must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment.
- The impairment makes it unable for you to engage in substantial gainful activity.
- The impairment is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.
Federal regulations define substantial gainful activity as physical or mental work activities, including walking, sitting, standing, climbing stairs, and remembering.
Social Security relies on the monthly income you earn from work to determine your ability to engage in substantial gainful activity. If you make over $1,470 monthly in 2023, you are engaging in substantial gainful activity and are ineligible for SSDI. The monthly earnings limit for someone who is blind is $2.460.
Trial Work Period And Rules For SSDI Benefits
Social Security offers incentives to encourage people to work while receiving SSDI benefits. One of the work incentives, a trial work period, allows you to test whether you can work without jeopardizing the SSDI benefits you receive each month.
As long as you notify Social Security about working, you have nine months under a trial work period to earn money that does not affect your SSDI benefits. The nine months need not be consecutive, but you must complete the trial period within 60 months.
A month in which total earnings exceed $1,050 counts as one of the nine trial months. If next month’s wages do not exceed $1,050, it does not count as a trial month. Either way, your SSDI benefits are unaffected because you are working during a trial work period. This process continues until you use up the nine months or 60 months from when you began the trial work period, which comes first.
Working During An Extended Period Of Eligibility
Rules for working while on SSDI include the Extended Period of Eligibility. When a trial work period ends, you may continue to work while receiving disability benefits for 36 months. The money you earn each month from working will result in the loss of benefits as long as your earnings do not exceed the substantial gainful activity limits, $2,460 for someone who is blind and $1,470 for someone who is not.
Rules for disability benefits through the SSDI program allow you to test your ability to work, but they can be complicated. For example, you are entitled to deduct from income expenses related to things or services you need because of your disability, including transportation, counseling, or specialized equipment.
If your earnings exceed the substantial gainful activity limits during a month, your SSDI benefits must stop. You have five years to request reinstatement of SSDI benefits without filing a new application. Social Security reinstates your SSDI payments while it looks at your medical records to determine if you continue to have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment preventing you from engaging in substantial gainful activity.
Another advantage you get under the rules for working while on SSDI is continuing Medicare coverage. If your earnings cause SSDI monthly payments to stop, Medicare Part A coverage continues for 93 months from the end of a trial work period as long as you continue to be disabled. You can continue coverage beyond the 93 months, provided you pay the premium and remain disabled.
Talk To A Disability Lawyer About Working While On SSDI
People throughout northern California have relied upon Sackett Law for experienced and knowledgeable advice and representation on all matters related to rules for disability benefits. If you need advice about working while receiving SSDI or need a disability lawyer to handle an appeal of a denial of benefits, turn to the disability law firm people in Northern California have relied upon for more than 40 years. Call Sackett Law today for a free consultation.