Will Work Cause You To Lose Your Disability Benefits?

You may possibly lose your Social Security Disability benefits or SSI disability benefits if you work. Work affects each disability program differently, so it is important to understand how work activity affects each disability program.

Working and Social Security Disability Benefits

If you work and earn more than the SGA monthly earnings limit, it will affect your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits. While Social Security offers work incentives to get you back into the work force without jeopardizing your disability eligibility, your Social Security Disability benefits may terminate if you continue working and earning more than the monthly SGA limit.

You are allowed a trial work period of nine months in which your earnings can be any amount and during which you will still be eligible to receive your Social Security Disability benefits. However, the nine months do not have to be consecutive and they can occur any time during a sixty-month period.

If you are performing SGA-level work activity (meaning that you are earning as much, or more than, the SGA limit in effect for that year) on the tenth month, your disability benefits will be suspended for any month that you were working over the SGA monthly limit. It also begins an extended period of eligibility (EPE).

The EPE is a thirty-six-month period in which you are allowed to restart your disability benefits any time you have stop work or are earning under the SGA monthly earnings amount without question; however your disability benefits will terminate the first month you perform SGA work after the end of the EPE.

Even if your disability benefits terminate due to SGA work after the EPE, you still may be able to get your disability benefits back if you stop work within five years of your disability termination due to the same disabling condition or conditions. If you are unable to work within this time frame, you can file an expedited reinstatement.

Expedited reinstatements allow you to receive six months of provisional disability payments while Social Security determines if you are still medically eligible to receive Social Security Disability. If your expedited reinstatement is denied, you still have the option of filing a new Social Security Disability claim. The SSI disability program works a little differently.

Working and SSI Disability Benefits

SSI disability beneficiaries' work activity causes their disability benefits to stop or be less from month to month depending on how much they are earning. You may even be earning enough to stop your SSI disability payments all together. It is very important that you report all work activity to Social Security. If you do not report your work timely ,you may very well cause an overpayment of disability benefits which you will be expected to repay.

If your work activity causes your SSI benefits to be in suspense twelve months or more, your SSI disability benefits will terminate. The SSI disability program does not offer the work incentives that Social Security Disability does. If your SSI disability benefits terminate, you will have to file a new disability claim. This means you will have to go through the entire disability determination process again.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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