If you get Social Security Disability and go back to work, do you have to pay anything back?

Hello, I am asking a question for some else. She used to work for the government, but became ill and took a buyout for retirement and went on SS disability. She is now 59 and has been receiving disability benefits.

If she is thinking about trying to go back to work, her benefits will stop, probably. The question is, if she is able to work full time, does she have to pay anything back to SS or to her company? Will she still be able to collect SS when she turns 66?


She should report her new employment as soon as she gets it. There are graduated steps to help someone get back into the work environment. She has a nine month trial work period for which monthly earnings amounts do not count. If in the 10th month she is still working and earning over the SGA monthly limit (to see the current amount: SGA earnings cap) for 2014, her benefits will be suspended and she will enter a thirty six month extended period of eligibility (EPE).

During the EPE she can have her benefits restarted if she finds she is unable to work. In the 37th month her disability benefits will terminate. Still if she has to go back to her disability after that, she can file for an expedited reinstatement of her disability benefits within five years of her termination, provided she had to stop working because of her disabling condition. So you see, she will be able to try work if she wishes and she has plenty of time to see if will work out.

The main thing is to report work timely and continue reporting work activity every so often to make sure she does not receive disability benefits she should not have received. That would create an overpayment for which she would be responsible for repaying.

Lastly, she certainly can collect her Social Security at age 66 even if her disability has terminated. I hope this information helps.

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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