Work incentives and Social Security Disability
For many people in Illinois, developing a disability can be a frustrating and emotionally challenging event. Often, the last thing they want to do is sit at home and watch TV. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration recognizes this and provides a work incentive that allows people to still collect disability benefits while trying to return to work.
The 9-month trial period
People who are interested in testing their work ability are granted a period of nine months to work. The trial begins when people engage in the following factors:
- Work over 80 hours in a month period
- Make an income of over $770 within one month
Once the work trial starts, it stays active until the person has worked a total of nine months within a 60 month period. The months do not have to be worked consecutively so a person could work a couple of months, take a couple of months off to build further strength or skills, and then work again. The purpose for the trial is to give people the opportunity to see if they can hold down a job, despite their disability.
During the trial, people can continue to receive their full amount of Social Security Disability payments. In addition to the disability payments, people on SSD will also still be covered by Medicare so they can continue to see their health professional and receive the care and treatment for their condition.
The SSA is also aware that some people may require special equipment, or transportation, to work and has set up an exemption which can deduct the money for these expenses from their monthly income. If a person is in a wheelchair and requires a specially designed desk, needs to be picked up by a taxi service, or has other needs, it may be possible for them to make more than $770 a month and still receive benefits.
If a person loses their benefits because they are making more income than what is allowed, there is a protection in place to help them if their disability later worsens, preventing them from working. The SSA will not require these people to go through the disability application process again unless five years have passed. Furthermore, people can submit a request for benefits and immediately receive payments during their evaluation process.
Extended work period
Once the 9 month trial has ended, the SSA has set it up so that people can work for an 36 additional months. However, to qualify for this, people will need to show that their income is not over $1,800 for someone who is blind or over $1,070 for other disabilities. To learn more about these work incentives and how it may affect disability benefits, people should meet with an experienced Social Security Disability attorney.