What Happens if I Go Back to Work After Being Awarded Social Security Disability Benefits?

By: Disability Group

 The effect returning to work has on your disability benefits depends on whether you receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI).

What happens if I receive SSDI benefits and I go back to work?

If you receive SSDI benefits, you can test your ability to work and still be considered disabled.  This is known as a trial work period.

How does the trial work period work?

During the nine-month trial work period you attempt to re-enter the workforce. The nine months do not have to be consecutive; they just need to be within a sixty-month period.  The Social Security Administration does not consider work performed during the trial work period as showing your disability has ended.  During the trial work period, you will receive your full SSDI benefits check.

What constitutes a trial work month?

In 2011, a trial work month is any month in which your total earnings are $720 or more.

What happens after the trial work nine-month period?

After the nine-month trial work period you are placed in an extended period of eligibility (EPE) for disability for 36 months (3 years). While in your EPE, any month you earn less than $1000 you will receive benefits. The following five years after that, if you are unable to work you may ask the SSA to start your benefits back up without filing a new application or having to wait while your condition is reviewed to determine if you are still disabled.

What happens if I receive SSI benefits and go back to work?

If you are disabled and return to work, you may receive your SSI payments until your earnings, added with any other income, exceed the SSI income limits. Remember SSI is a type of welfare program for people with limited resources who become disabled. The asset limit for SSI is different in each state. Even if you exceed the asset limit for SSI and your payments stop, you may still qualify to receive Medicaid coverage. If your SSI payments stop because of your earnings and you become unable to work, you may ask the SSA to start your benefits again. You will not have to file a new disability application if your request is made within five years after the month your benefits stopped.