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A Look at Programs Designed to Get Disability Recipients Back to Work

There are currently around 11 million Americans collecting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. These are the two programs the United States Social Security Administration (SSA) runs to provide benefits for disabled adults and children who cannot work due to their respective medical conditions.

1078874_word_work_on_the_dices-300x214Many in Congress like to claim that there are too many people collecting disability benefits, and they should be working.  We know that this is just political rhetoric, but there does not seem to be any stopping politicians from making these unfounded claims.  The truth is that the vast majority of people collecting Social Security disability benefits would much rather be healthy and able to work.  One reason we know this is because the cap for disability benefits is under $1,100 per month, which is much less than many people could earn at work even at a minimum wage job.  This is not a coincidence, as Congress did not want people to make more in benefits than they could while working.

However, there are certain programs available to help people who are willing and able to go back to work to be able to do so without immediately losing their much-needed benefits. As discussed in a recent news feature from The Fiscal Times, the Ticket to Work is one of these programs. This program was first started in 1999 and was designed to provide vocational training and assistance, but that program had little success and was eventually suspended.  It was however revamped and re-launched in the last few years.

Another program attempting to get people with disabilities back in the workforce was designed to provide mental health treatment and vocational training for people who have schizophrenia.  This program was started in 2003, but was terminated in 2011 when it was determined that very few people actually benefited from the program.

The latest attempt at getting people back to work is known as the Benefit Offset National Demonstration (BOND) program.  This program will allow people to work and reduce their benefits by $1 for every $2 the beneficiary earns in the workforce. One that person earns enough money to get to the level of $1090 per month, they will lose all benefits. That level is threshold for working, as making more than that is known as engaging in substantial gainful activity.

However, it seems that this program may have problems as well.  One of the major problems is that if someone tried to go back to work under this program and is able to make the substantial gainful activity, they lose all their benefits at once. If they work for a short time and then realize they cannot work any longer, they have to go through the long and painful application process again. Not only that, the second time may be more difficult, because the SSA will likely claim they are able to work since they just recently worked.

This is not a position that anyone wants to be in, so the best thing you can do is to speak with an experienced Boston disability attorney before making any decisions with respect to your 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:

A Cautionary Tale About the Latest Effort to Cut Disability Insurance Benefits, February 12, 2016, The Fiscal Times

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.