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You May Be Eligible to Work While Receiving SSDI Benefits

When you sign up for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you are showing to the Social Security Administration (SSA) that your illness or disability is severe enough that it prevents you from being able to support yourself by maintaining your current employment status. While some people are reluctant to work at all since they fear their ability to collect SSDI payments would be lost, SSA has some rules that allow some people to try working part or full-time while still providing their much-needed benefits.

Can I work while receiving benefits?

SSA has established the Trial Work Period (TWP) to allow SSDI recipients to try and work while still receiving their benefits. It allows you to work a total of nine months over a 60 month period, allowing you to earn an unlimited amount without diminishing your monthly SSDI payment.

A month of work in SSA terms refers to anytime you:

  • Earn more than $770 each month, or
  • Work over 80 hours in a month when you are self-employed.

All monthly earnings count towards this amount, deducting impairment-related work expenses that are out-of-pocket costs. The amount of time you work must be reported to SSA, including pay stubs and copies of the receipts of work expenses by the 10 th of each month you work. Failure to do so can result in immediate termination of benefits.

A TWP is not enough for Social Security to decide to discontinue your benefits once you have been deemed disabled or sick. Medical records are the indicator examined to determine whether or not you still qualify.

Extended Period of Eligibility Follows TWP

Following the TWP, the Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE) may apply. This is a 36-month window where you are able to continue receiving SSDI payments as long as you remain disabled and earn less than $1,070. If you earn over this amount in any month, you will lose that month's SSDI payment and indicate to SSA that you are no longer disabled, leading your benefits to be terminated after a two-month period. If you stop working at any point, you are able to re-enroll in benefits without refiling.

Working while you are receiving Social Security Disability Benefits does not necessarily mean that your benefits will cease, but you have to abide by a new set of rules to continue receiving these benefits. If you are wondering how you may be affected by working under SSA rules, contact a SSDI attorney to help you understand your rights.