Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides critical financial support to individuals who cannot work due to a disability. However, what happens when an individual receiving SSDI benefits attempts to return to work? Is it possible to continue receiving SSDI while earning an income?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has provisions in place to help beneficiaries transition back to work without immediately losing their benefits. These rules and their implications deserve a detailed exploration.
Trial work period and extended period of eligibility
The SSA allows a “trial work period” where SSDI recipients can test their ability to work for nine months over a 60-month period without losing benefits, regardless of earnings. Once this period ends, and if the individual is still working, the SSA starts an “extended period of eligibility.” During this 36-month period, one can still receive SSDI benefits for any month where earnings do not exceed a certain limit.
If work stops within five years due to the same disability, the individual can request expedited reinstatement of benefits. The SSA will provide temporary benefits during the consideration period. If approved, full benefits resume. If not, the temporary benefits cease.
Impairment-related work expenses
The SSA may deduct the cost of certain disability-related expenses from earnings when determining if work is substantial. These could include transportation costs, medical devices or even some types of medication. This provision could help keep income below the threshold for continued benefits.
Continued Medicare coverage
Even if SSDI benefits stop due to work, individuals can keep their Medicare coverage for at least 93 months after the trial work period. After that, they may be able to buy continued Medicare coverage.
With these supports, SSDI beneficiaries can gradually re-enter the workforce while maintaining their financial stability. It also underscores the importance of understanding how work impacts SSDI benefits to make informed decisions about employment.