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What are work incentives for Social Security disability?

Tennesseans who are receiving Social Security disability often want to try to get back to work. However, fear of losing their SSD benefits is sometimes a sticking point in making the attempt. It is possible to try to go back to work and still receive their benefits with them being reinstated if they cannot work. These are known as Social Security work incentives. Knowing the different options that are available to a person who is receiving disability to try and get back to work is important to assuage that fear and make certain that the rules are followed throughout the process.

The trial work period will let the recipient try to work for a minimum of nine months. In this period, the person will get all SSD benefits no matter how much he or she earns as long as it is reported to the Social Security Administration and the disability is still in place. Currently, the trial work month will be considered a month in which the total earnings surpass $810. A self-employed person can earn more than $810 post-expenses or work for more than 80 hours in their own business. TWP will continue until the person has worked for nine months within a period of 60 months.

The extended period of eligibility occurs after TWP. There will be 36 months where the person can work and receive SSD benefits for a month when the earnings do not fall into the "substantial" category. Currently, any earnings over $1,130 and $1,820 if the person is blind will be seen as substantial. Expedited reinstatement is if the benefits cease due to surpassing the substantial earnings. The person will be able to request that the SSD benefits be restarted within five years if the condition prevents continuing to work.

With continuation of Medicare, if the disability benefits end due to earnings, the person will still be able to get Medicare Part A for a minimum of 93 months after the TWP of nine months. After the period has concluded, it is possible to buy Medicare Part A. The premium for Medicare Part B must be paid. A person who works while disabled might need to pay for goods and services to facilitate working. This might be able to be deducted from the earnings prior to deciding if the person is eligible to continue getting benefits. Since it can be confusing to know about Social Security disability benefits and the rules when trying to go back to work, it is important to have legal help from an experienced lawyer.

Source:, "Working While Disabled -- How We Can Help, pages 6-7," accessed on Dec. 13, 2016

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