Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays monthly benefits to people who have a medical condition or injury that prevents them from working for at least a year. When you apply for these benefits initially, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will evaluate your work history, degree of impairment and eligibility based on your past relevant work. During this process, you cannot engage in or be able to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA). If you do so, then you will not qualify. However, after qualifying for SSDI, you may be able to return to work while still receiving payments for a limited time through a Trial Work Period (TWP). Even after this period ends, you may still be able to collect SSDI benefits in certain circumstances.
The regulations concerning disability benefits are complex. Therefore, it is always best to consult with a Columbus Social Security lawyer if you have questions about returning to work. At Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC, our family of attorneys has been assisting Ohioans with their workers comp and Social Security claims since 1929. We can examine your situation and determine your options if you wish to seek employment after a disabling work injury.
After a disabling work injury or other accident, it can be difficult to tell if and when you are physically ready to return to work. The SSA recognizes this problem, so it will not cut off your disability benefits immediately if you return to the workplace. Instead, all Social Security beneficiaries may take advantage of a trial work period (TWP). This allows you to test your ability to work for up to nine months while receiving your full SSDI payments.
Your nine-month trial work period begins the first month your gross income is above the limit set by the SSA. For 2017, this income limit is $840. Additionally, the nine months of your TWP do not have to be consecutive. This is the case as long as they occur within a 60-month period of one another. This means you may work sporadically, testing your ability to rejoin the workforce. Furthermore, if you make less than $840, that month does not count toward your TWP, regardless of your work. However, different rules may apply if you are self-employed.
Once the TWP ends, the SSA will evaluate your work to determine if it is substantial gainful activity (SGA). A monthly income of over $1,170 is SGA for non-blind individuals and $1,950 for blind workers in 2017, though these limits are subject to change. However, your Social Security disability benefits may not cease entirely right away. You may still continue to collect payments through your extended period of eligibility (EPE).
After the ninth month of your trial work period, you enter an extended period of eligibility, which lasts 36 months. During this time, your eligibility for SSDI payments may change from month to month. If you make above the SGA limit in a given month, you will receive no benefits. However, any month in which your gross income is less than the SGA limit, you will receive disability benefits.
There is one exception to this rule. The first month of your EPE in which your gross income qualifies as SGA triggers the start of a three-month grace period. This means that for three consecutive months, you will receive your full SSDI payments even if you are performing a substantial gainful activity.
After the end of your EPE, your disability benefits will cease the first month in which you engage in SGA. This means that you will no longer receive SSDI payments even if your monthly gross income changes.
After your EPE ends, you can sometimes quickly re-qualify for disability benefits if you lose your ability to work. For five years after the end of your EPE, you are entitled to file for expedited reinstatement if you can no longer work, or your regular income falls below the SGA limits. This makes it easier for you to qualify, in most cases, and may be processed faster than a regular application. Additionally, you will receive disability payments for up to six months while the SSA considers your request. Even if your request for benefits is denied, you keep those payments.
The difference between expedited reinstatement and an initial SSDI application is that you do not have to prove that you have a disability for expedited reinstatement. Instead, the SSA investigates to see whether your medical condition has improved since the last time you got benefits. Therefore, it is often easier and faster to qualify for expedited reinstatement of benefits. However, this kind of application must concern the same injury or condition that caused your disability previously. If you sustain a second disabling work injury or develop a new condition, you must file a regular application.
If you have questions about returning to work as an SSDI beneficiary, then contact a Columbus Social Security lawyer from our law firm. We have been assisting injured and disabled workers in Ohio since 1929. We can use our experience to help you get the workers compensation and disability benefits you deserve.
Call (614) 221-7548 or contact us online today to schedule your free initial consultation. We have offices throughout central Ohio, including Columbus, Zanesville, Shadyside, Newark and Portsmouth for your convenience.
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