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Going Back to Work while on Social Security Disability

As the campaign season for the party presidential nominations moves along, we continue to hear about the Social Security disability programs, including the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the somewhat lesser known Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.   Mostly, it is the GOP hopefuls who are intent on overhauling the United States Social Security Administration (SSA), and in some cases even shutting down the entire agency and privatizing the disability benefits system in the United States.

1078874_word_work_on_the_dicesThe main reason for these proposals is a rather misguided belief that the vast majority of Americans claiming a disability are basically pretending to be more ill than they are (malingering), because they would rather stay home and collect a check than work for a living. This is the basic “entitlements” argument, and, for the most part, it could not be farther from the truth.

This is not to say that there are not a few people who try to game the system, as Senator Rand Paul likes to say, but the vast majority of claimants are truly disabled and cannot work. These individuals would much rather be healthy and able to work and take care of their families than live in constant pain and suffering and depend upon a federal employee benefits program.

As discussed in a recent article from Forbes, one of the issues people have that prevents them from going back to work if they recover is that they fear that if they start to ease back into the workforce, they will lose their benefits before they are earning enough to make it without receiving a monthly disability benefits check, and this is something they cannot allow, so they choose not to work at all.   There is, however, a program that allows a patient to go back to work but still keep their benefits during the transitional period.

As a general rule, the SSA does not calculate whether benefits should be suspended until a disabled SSDI payee works for a period of 12 months. This means that no matter what is earned during the first 12 months, you should not lose your benefits. After the first 12 months, SSA will conduct a benefits review and determine if you earned more than $1130 in any given month, which is not hard to do. If you earned this amount of money, your benefits will be canceled, but you will still technically be eligible to receive benefits for the next 33 months. This means that if you stop working, you should be able to resume your benefits payment without the need for another hearing before an administrative law judge.

However, it should be noted that this is a fairly complex issue and in no way should be considered legal advice for your actual situation. The best thing you can do is to speak with an experienced Boston Social Security Disability Insurance benefits attorney. It is possible that you may take advantage of the SSA Ticket to Work program, which is designed to allow workers to return to work gradually without having to worry about losing their monthly benefits. If the employee stays at work and eventually earns enough to suspend disability benefits, this will happen over time and in phases to avoid any problems as a result of losing disability benefits.

If you are seeking Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Social Security Q&A: Will Working End Disability Benefits?, January 9, 2016, Forbes, By Laurence Kotlikoff

More Blog Entries:
Hanson v. Colvin: A Critical Look by a Court of Appeals on a Denial of Benefits, August 14, 2014, Boston Disability Lawyers Blog.