Returning To Work
If you have a disability claim pending, returning to work will likely jeopardize approval of your application. When a claim has reached the level of administrative hearing the judge may find that you are capable of work-like activities if you are employed even part time. On the other hand, should you attempt to return to full-time work but are unable to perform or meet the demands of your position, the judge evaluating your case may reward your effort be approving your claim. Regardless of the unique factors of any claim, if the applicant is working during the approval process a finding of ineligibility is likely.

The Trial Work Period
If you are receiving Social Security Disability benefits and wish to try to return to work, you should not fear that your benefits will immediately be revoked. After a recipient of SSD has been disabled for one year, the SSA allows an individual to participate in the trial work period (SSI recipients are not eligible for this program). This is a nine-month period of time where you may attempt to return to the workforce while you continue to receive benefits. The months do not need to be consecutive. However after nine months of work within a period of 60 months the Trial Work Period ends. It is also important to note that if you attempt to perform work that the SSA considers substantial gainful activity during the first 12 months following the initial date of your disability you will not be eligible for a Trial Work Period and may have your benefits revoked if you have been approved.

How the SSA defines "services"
"Services" is the word used by the SSA to define work performed for which you have been compensated during the Trial Work Period. As an employee working for another individual or business, a month will count toward your Trial Work Period if the wages earned for your "services" exceed $700 (2009 figure). If you are self-employed, a month of "services" is any month in which you earn more than $700 or work 80 hours. There is no limit to the amount of income you can make in a month during the Trial Work Period.

The Extended Period of Eligibility
Once you have completed your Trial Work Period you will enter the Extended Period of Eligibility. This period will begin even if you do not continue to work. The Extended Period of Eligibility is a 36-month period in which you will continue to receive your disability benefits. However, during the Extended Period of Eligibility if you work in any month and earn more than the amount the SSA considers substantial gainful activity ($980/month for 2009), you will not receive your disability benefits. Nonetheless your disability eligibility remains protected. If during this period you work but earn less than what the SSA considers substantial gainful activity you will receive your benefit check for that month. The SSA presumes that you remain disabled during this period, therefore, should you be unable to continue to work, you will be able to continue receiving your SSD benefits without the need to reapply.

The Ticket to Work Program and Work Incentives
The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 expanded the opportunities available to those recipients of SSD benefits who have a desire to work but are unable due to their disability. The Ticket to Work Program connects SSD/SSI recipients with employment service providers (known as Employment Networks) to achieve individual work goals. The SSA will provide you with an actual ticket that will enable you to obtain services from Employment Networks such as vocational rehabilitation and employment. The Ticket to Work Program provides you with real choices in obtaining the services and resources you need to find and maintain employment, while providing a safety net during this transition. With the help of Employment Networks, if you receive SSD or SSI you can take work while receiving your benefits.

Work incentives are special rules that make it possible for people with disabilities receiving SSD or SSI to explore work options and still receive benefits until they are able to support themselves. If you have a disability Social Security Work Incentives help remove the barriers to work by offering support services and providing a safety net to assist you in finding the right job and succeed in the workplace.

You can contact us directly with your questions. We will have a social security disability expert or attorney contact you to review your work situation.

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