Social Security Disability: How Employment Affects Benefits

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Receiving social security disability benefits and working a part-time or full-time job are not necessarily mutually exclusive, as many people might believe. While you may not be granted SSI benefits if you're pulling in a cool million dollars every year, most people are awarded social security disability benefits over the course of a few years as they ease back into full-time employment. This article discusses the essential factors of receiving benefits for those who would like to return to work, or who are still working, but fear losing their benefits as a result.

Understanding The Trial Work Period

For those who are receiving benefits or who are ultimately awarded benefits, it is essential to understand the purpose and guidelines behind the work trial period. Essentially, the work trial period consists of a span of nine months during which the you return to your job, whether that is a part-time or full-time position, to 'test the waters' in a sense. Rather than simply tossing you back into the workforce, the social security administration wants to know how you will fare once you return to work.

The 9-Month Period

The work trial period is assessed over nine working months within a 60-month period. That means that the nine months may not necessarily take place in the same year, or in the same two years. Instead, the eligible nine months include any month in which you earn a certain amount of income, which varies each year.

The Income Component of The Work Trial Period

In 2015, the nine months of the work trial period include those where an individual earned more than $780. Only after the individual has completed nine months of work during which his or her earnings met or exceeded the $780 threshold is the work trial period considered complete. The above link also illustrates how, over the course of a few years, the actual dollar amount may change in lieu of currency depreciation, deflation, etc. In these instances, the social security administration uses a multiplier to gauge current earnings against past earnings.

Extending Your Eligibility

Once your work trial period has ended, you will automatically enter what is know as the extended period of eligibility. This represents another 36 months during which you will receive your full award benefits. However, your benefits are contingent on the stipulation that your income not exceed the social security administration's 'substantial gainful activity' threshold.

What this means is that, during those three years, your monthly income cannot exceed $1,090 (the figure for 2015). If your income at any time exceeds these figures, the SSA will consider your disability to have 'ceased', and you will only receive your benefits for that month and another two months before they come to an end.

Although you may be able to receive social security disability benefits for up to nine years, your eligibility is ultimately dependent on when you return to work and the amount of income you earn once you return. Contact a professional social security disability lawyer, such as one from, for further assistance.