Social Security Disability gives disabled workers a chance to attempt re-entrance into the work force while still receiving monthly benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, program. This opportunity is provided through a few different programs. The most commonly utilized of these programs is the Trial Work Period– available to beneficiaries, or winning applicant of SSDI. Read below and if you still have questions, call for a consultation with one of our Tallahassee disability attorneys to find out what work would be available if you qualify to receive monthly disability benefits.
The Trial Work Period allows the beneficiary to receive benefits while participating in work that does not exceed gross earnings of $810/month. The working recipient can work nine months within five years exceeding this amount before the trial work period ends. After five years have passed since any trial work month, that particular month will no longer count as one of the nine allotted trial work months. Trial work months do not have to be consecutive; this means depending on the spacing of your trial work months, it is in fact possible to participate in more than nine trial months.
David, out of work due to a severe non-work related back injury, applied and was approved to receive benefits from Social Security’s SSDI program. He was approved in January 2010 and began his trial work period in January 2011. After a brief stint in the workforce, David was laid off in late March 2011 due to his particular limitations. Still receiving his monthly benefits, David made a second attempt to work in early December 2015. He worked a consecutive seven months before being laid off again in June 2016. Even though his total number of trial work months equals ten months, he is still eligible to receive monthly benefits with five trial work months remaining. This is because the five-year counting period will have rolled over and passed since his first three trial work months in early 2011.
Extended Period of Eligibility
If David is not laid off in June 2016 and continues to work for the next five consecutive months, he will reach the end of his nine-month work trial period and will enter Extended Period of Eligibility, EPE for short. An EPE lasts 36 consecutive months after the trial work period ends. A beneficiary’s eligibility to receive benefits will be determined on a monthly basis for this time. A beneficiary may be eligible to receive benefits as long as he or she is not earning more than the SGA amount of $1,130 per month.
The only time an applicant earning more than the SGA amount is eligible to receive full benefits while working over the SGA amount is during the grace period. The first month a beneficiary is found to be working above the SGA amount starts the three consecutive-months period at which a beneficiary can work above the SGA limit and still receive the full monthly benefit. Benefits can cease if the beneficiary’s countable gross income exceeds SGA after the grace period.
If you have stopped receiving benefits due to work activity and your gross countable income drops below the SGA limit, you can file an application for expedited reinstatement on your own or with the help of a Tallahassee disability lawyer.
If you receive Supplemental Security Income, there are other incentives to returning to work. As most Tallahassee disability attorneys can explain, the SSI work incentive is not as generous as that of SSDI, but it is still helpful. In general, an SSI beneficiary’s benefits are reduced only one dollar for every two dollars earned. Call our office for a consultation with one of our social security lawyers to determine how the Social Security work incentives might affect you.