Generally, most SSA officials will tell you that you cannot work or have any substantial gainful activity SGA (working and making more than $1,040 per month or $1,740 if you’re blind) and continue to receive disability benefits. This is not true and there are exceptions to the rule.
SSDI recipients are entitled to test their ability to work and continue to receive full benefits regardless of whether they make more than the SGA amount, for a nine-month trial work period. For 2013, the SSA considers any month where a person has a monthly income of more than $750 a trial work month. If you are self-employed, any month where you work more than 80 hours (or earn more than $750 is a trial work month).
Once you have completed the nine-month trial work period, you can still receive SSDI for any month where your earnings fall below the SGA level, for a period of 36 months. This is called the extended period of eligibility. In other words, if you earn more than $1,040 per month, you won’t get disability benefits for that month.
If your SSDI payments have stopped because your income is substantial, the SSA gives you five years during which your benefits can be reinstated if you stop work because of your disability. During the five-year period, the SSA will not require you to file a new disability application to get benefits. This is called expedited reinstatement.
If you lose your job during the trial work period, your disability benefits will not be affected. If you lose your job during the 36 months following the trial work period, and you are still disabled, you will need to call the SSA to have your disability benefits restarted.
In addition, if you use fewer than nine trial work months during any five-year period, you may be able to get another set of nine trial work months. Trial work months more than five years old are no longer counted, so your entitlement to nine months of trial work may start over, and you may be end up getting more than nine trial work months.
Recipients of SSDI can join the Ticket to Work Program which will assist you in your attempts to return to work, or work for yourself. You simply report your monthly income to the SSA (Social Security Administration) as long as you are working. They will help you be accountable for your earnings, advise you of your status, and alert you when you are changing each phase of the trial work period or your extended work period.
For more information download this brochure or contact your local Social Security Office for more details! http://ssa.gov/redbook/eng/TheRedBook2013.pdf
To Your Work Success,