SSD Benefits and Part-Time Work
November 16th, 2016 by Attorney John Colvin
Social Security Disability benefits can help you pay your bills if you suffer a debilitating injury and can’t work, but the Social Security Administration wants people to return to work if and when they’re able, even if they can work only part-time. To make that easier for SSD recipients, the SSA won’t cut off benefits unless you earn more than a certain amount of money.
How Much You Can Earn
The SSA sets a threshold for what it considers to be “substantial gainful activity.” If you earn more than that threshold, your benefits will likely be discontinued. In 2016, SSD recipients can earn up to $1,130 per month, or up to $1,820 per month if blind, without losing benefits. Those amounts are subject to change every calendar year.
The Trial Work Period
When you have a disability, you may think you’re ready to return to work, only to find you can’t work at the same capacity you’re accustomed to. The SSA understands the challenges of returning to work, which is why SSD recipients can use the Trial Work Period to test their ability to work.
The Trial Work Period (TWP) is any nine months – not necessarily consecutive – within a 60-month period, in which you earn more than $810 per month, or if you are self-employed, any month when you work more than 80 hours. (In 2017, the earnings threshold increases to $840 per month).
After the TWP has ended, you enter the Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE). The SSA will monitor your work activity during this time. If during the TWP, you earn more than the substantial gainful activity threshold ($1,130 per month in 2016) within 12 months of the day of your disability, you become ineligible for benefits.
Occasionally, it is possible to earn more than $1,130 per month and still receive benefits, if the SSA determines you are receiving a subsidy from your employer. For example, if your monthly pay is $1,000, but your employer pays you an additional $200 a month because you need a personal assistant to help you get to and from work, that $200 is not considered part of your employment income.
Waiting Periods and Reviews
Because of the long processing time for SSD applications, it’s possible that some people may apply for benefits but recover from their injury and return to work in the time they are waiting. If that happens, and you earn more than $1,130 per month before your claim is approved, you are ineligible for benefits.
The SSA may periodically review your ongoing disability and request additional medical evidence that your disability still limits your capacity for work. If during your TWP or EEP, you have to stop working or reduce your hours because of your disability, and you earned less than $1,130 per month, that’s considered an Unsuccessful Work Attempt (UWA). The SSA does not consider wages earned during the UWA as part of your overall gainful employment.
The rules regarding SSD benefits are complex, but the process of applying for benefits is much easier with the help of an experienced SSD attorney. John R. Colvin, Attorney at Law, has successfully represented clients throughout Tennessee and Alabama who need disability benefits. For 20 years, he has been helping victims put their lives back on track, and he is ready to help you. For legal advice on pursuing a claim for SSD benefits, call 1-931-962-1044 or submit an online form. Put his bold approach and client focus to work for you.