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Will I Lose My Disability If I Work Part Time?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI or SSD) rules allow benefits recipients to earn income under several scenarios without losing their benefits. In this blog article, we’ll explain the circumstances under which you can work and receive your full Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. The amount you can earn and still receive SSD benefits depends on your individual condition.

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How Much Can You Earn from Part-Time Work While Receiving Social Security Disability?

The Social Security Administration limits the amount of money most SSD benefits recipients can earn because the agency literally defines a “disability” in terms of the amount of income a claimant can earn each month.

The rules require that the claim be based on “a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that lasts or is expected to last 12 months (or result in death) and prevents the claimant from engaging in substantial gainful activity, or SGA.”

In 2024, substantial gainful activity is defined as any work a claimant can do that will earn more than $1,550 per month; the limit for a blind claimant is $2,590.

It’s important to note that the Social Security Administration only counts a claimant’s “countable net” earnings after Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWE) and costs are deducted from their gross earnings. Examples could include unreimbursed costs for vehicle modifications to accommodate a disability, prosthetics and associated adjustment and fitting costs, or special transportation costs to get to and from work.

What Happens If You Earn More than the Allowed SGA Amount?

Every SSD recipient is required to report any income earned each month to the Social Security Administration. If an SSD benefits recipient earns more than the amount set as the SGA limit, they do not automatically lose their benefits. Instead, the person automatically starts in a special program called the Trial Work Period (TWP).

What’s the Trial Work Period?

The Trial Work Period (TWP) is a program the Social Security Administration created to encourage those receiving disability benefits to try to go back to work. Before the TWP program, disability recipients hesitated to try working because they would lose their benefits by earning too much money. Then, if they found their disabling impairment returned or worsened, they wouldn’t have their job or disability benefits.

To eliminate those fears, the TWP program was established. The Trial Work Period is a program that allows a benefits recipient to earn an unlimited amount in nine calendar months and continue receiving their full SSD benefits payment. The nine TWP months do not need to be consecutive. They can be any nine months spread over a period of five years. The Trial Work Period program is only available to people receiving SSDI benefits. SSI benefit recipients are not eligible for the TWP.

For 2023, one of the nine months of a person’s Trial Work Period will be used whenever they earn more than $1,050, not the SGA amount of $1,450.

The Trial Work Period enables people who think their impairments may have subsided to pursue employment opportunities without worrying about jeopardizing their SSD benefits. If they learn they were wrong and need to stop working, their benefits continue uninterrupted. But, if they successfully resume work and remain employed, their benefits will stop at the end of the nine Trial Work Period months.

SSD Benefits Resume If The Claimant’s Disability Returns After Resuming Work

Following the Trial Work Period, the monthly SSD benefits payments cease. But a new period called the Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE) runs for the next three years (36 months). During the EPE, the SSD claimant can receive their full SSD benefit payment for any month their earnings fall below the SGA level.

There is no need to file a new claim during the EPE the previous disability claim will remain valid, and benefits resume without delay for any month with below-SGA earnings.

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