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SSDI Benefits And Your Employment

In certain situations and under certain conditions, people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can test out their ability to work while still collecting their full SSDI benefits.

Trial Work Period Program (TWP)

If you are on SSDI, the trial work period (TWP) allows you to work nine months during a five-year period without penalty. During the nine-month TWP, you can earn any amount of money without affecting your benefit; however, once the nine-month TWP is exhausted, you will lose your benefits for any month in which you earn more than the Social Security substantial gainful activity threshold, which changes annually.

A month will count toward your nine-month TWP if you earn more than $880 in that month (for 2019) or if you are self-employed and work more than 80 hours in that month. The Social Security Administration uses gross earnings (not “take-home”) to determine whether you meet the income threshold, but will allow the deduction of monthly expenses related to your disability that permit you to work, such as job training.

The monthly earning threshold changes on an annual basis.

If you receive SSDI benefits and earn any income, you are required to notify the Social Security Administration of your earnings and any disability-related expenses. Failure to do so could result in an overpayment or otherwise adversely affect eligibility for benefits. In the event of an overpayment of benefits by the Social Security Administration, you are required to make repayment, which can hurt your ability to make ends meet.

An experienced Social Security Disability attorney at Donovan O'Connor & Dodig, LLP, can help you navigate the trial work period to help you return to work, while still maintaining your monthly benefits.

Extended Period Of Eligibility (EPE)

Once the nine-month TWP is exhausted, the extended period of eligibility (EPE) begins. The EPE is a 36-month period when you continue to receive SSDI benefits as long as:

  • You are disabled.
  • Your earnings are below Social Security’s substantial gainful activity (SGA), a level that is regularly adjusted for inflation.

If you earn over SGA in any month during the EPE, you lose your benefit for that month and will no longer meet the Social Security Administration’s standard for disability. At that point, you will be entitled to an additional two months of SSDI benefits before they are stopped.

If after your SSDI benefits are stopped, but during your remaining EPE period, you are no longer working or your income is below the SGA threshold, you should immediately notify the Social Security Administration. It will resume paying your benefits without you having to go through the trouble of reapplying.

After your 36-month period ends, your benefits will end unless you have a medical disability and your earnings are not at or above the SGA. If within five years of the termination of your benefits, your medical condition again causes you to be disabled from work, you may receive an expedited reinstatement of your SSDI benefits.

Having an experienced Social Security Disability attorney who can help you understand the SSDI eligibility requirements, including the extended period of eligibility, and guide you through the reapplication process can make all the difference in your claim.

Contact Our Social Security Disability Attorneys

For consultation with a lawyer about your eligibility for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income, contact Donovan O'Connor & Dodig, LLP. We have offices in North Adams, Pittsfield and Springfield, Massachusetts, as well as in Bennington, Vermont, to serve you. You can reach us in Massachusetts at 413-663-3200 and in Vermont at 802-442-3233 or via email.

All cases are handled on a contingent fee basis — you will pay no attorneys’ fees unless we win compensation in your case.

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