Social Security Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability is a government insurance program designed to benefit those who are disabled and need to provide for themselves and their families. The Social Security Administration is the federal agency in charge of Social Security programs, and offers two types of disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income. Social Security Disability Insurance is a benefit intended to help you meet your expenses while you are out of work; it is impermissible to receive SSDI benefits while working, and these benefits cease when you return to work after recovering from your disability or switching career fields.
Social Security offers work incentives for those with disabilities. These incentives include:
Trial Work Period
- You may test your ability to work for a period of up to nine months in any sixty month period while still receiving SSDI benefits. A trial work month constitutes any month when you are earning over $810. If you are self-employed, a trial work month is considered any month in which you earn more than $810 after expenses or work more than 80 hours in your own business.
Extended Period of Eligibility
- After your trial work period is over, you still have 36 months of time when you can work and receive benefits if your earnings are not substantial. Currently the Social Security Administration considers $1,130 per month to be substantial income.
- You have five years to ask the Social Security Administration to reinstate your benefits if you are unable to continue working due to your previous condition. This will save you the effort of reapplying for new benefits.
Continuation of Medicare
- You are not disqualified from receiving Medicare because of significant earnings. If you are earning significant income but are still disabled, you will be eligible to receive free Medicare Part A coverage for at least 93 months after the nine-month trial work period is over. After this 93-month period, you are still eligible to purchase Medicare Part A for a monthly premium. If you are receiving Part B coverage, you must continue to pay your premium unless you successfully end your coverage by submitting a request in writing.
Work Expenses Related to Disability
- If you have disability-related expenses such as counseling or transportation costs, you may be eligible to deduct these expenses from your monthly earnings so that they do not count towards your benefit eligibility.
Supplemental Security Income also offers work incentives, including:
Continuation of SSI
- SSI Benefits are paid to individuals aged 65 or older, blind, disabled, or who have little income or resources. Even if you are working, you may continue to receive benefits until your total income exceeds the SSI income limits. Even when you are earning above the income limit, your Medicaid coverage will usually continue (if your earning are less than your state level).
- If your payments stopped because of your earnings, you may ask to restart your benefits without having to complete the application process again from scratch.
Work Expenses Related to Disability
- You may be eligible to deduct any disability-related expenses that you require to work, even before the Social Security Administration calculates if you are still eligible for benefits.
Benefits for Students with Disabilities
- If you are a student or regularly attend a training program, or if you’re under age 22, the Social Security Administration will not count some of your earnings (up to $1,780/month, with a maximum of $7,180/yr) when calculating your SSI benefit.
In all, it is possible to continue to receive benefits from the Social Security Administration while working, but only so long as your disability keeps you from earning substantial income.