Can I Return to Work While Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits?
Getting approved for Social Security disability benefits is a massive relief, especially if you were denied the first time—a common experience for thousands of Americans. What happens now? Perhaps you are still able to work in some capacity and you worry that working at all could end your benefits.
The Social Security program recognizes the importance of work and how meaningful it is for people to contribute in this way, so in many cases, individuals receiving Social Security benefits can still work. However, you must meet specific requirements and plan ahead for what happens if your income exceeds a specific level.
In Certain Cases, Yes
If you are receiving Social Security disability benefits, you have already demonstrated that your ability to do basic work activities has been limited for a period of at least 12 months. However, that doesn’t mean you are completely incapable of working. While some choose to stop working entirely, others want to keep a small income coming in.
If your earnings are lower than $910 per month, you will likely be able to continue receiving Social Security benefits. This amount often allowed disabled individuals to engage in part-time work or freelance work without endangering their disability income.
Don’t Forget Your Job-Related Expenses
What if your earnings are slightly higher than $910 per month? Don’t forget to count in job-related expenses. These expenses count against your monthly income and may bring you back under the upper limit. For example, if you have to pay for a monthly subscription for a data entry program, that would lower your earnings. If you work out of the home and have to take a taxi to work a few days per week, that would count as a work expense.
Trial Work Period
If you earn more than $910 per month, be aware that your benefits could change or be eliminated. When your income reaches between $910 and $1260 per month, the administration will look at your claim and evaluate it under the trial work period regulations.
A trial work period tests your ability to work consistently and in a way that replaces your Social Security income. During the trial period, you still receive your full disability payments. Once you have earned more than $880 per month for a total of at least nine cumulative months, Social Security will reevaluate your claim by looking at your average earnings. If your average earnings are more than $1260 per month, your benefits may stop.
Please note that these amounts are different for blind individuals. For blind individuals, the threshold is $2,110, not $1,260. Additionally, these amounts change each year. The amounts listed are for 2020.
What If I Lose My Ability to Work Again?
For many individuals who want to work but are receiving disability, their main concern is once again losing their ability to work after beginning to earn income. However, you can rest easy. If you lose your benefits because you begin earning wages in excess of the monthly threshold, you have five years in which you can ask to restart your benefits if you lose your ability to work. This is known as the “expedited reinstatement” period. If you can no longer work because of disability, you do not have to file a new application or wait for your condition to be reviewed. Your benefits will be restarted promptly. This allows individuals to attempt to begin working and becoming independent without making them hold back for fear of losing their benefits permanently.
Even if your Social Security disability payments stop because of your income, you can still receive Medicare Part A coverage. The cost of healthcare is often enough to keep people from working, since they fear that needing to pay for health insurance would completely cancel out anything that they earned from working. You can still receive benefits for at least 93 months after your trial period.
Let Us Help with Your Disability Claim
Are you trying to qualify for Social Security disability, fighting a denial, or trying to figure out how you can still work while receiving payments? Let us help. Reach out to The Dansby Law Firm at 334-834-7001 or get in touch online to set up a consultation.