Working While Disabled — Social Security Can Help

man sitting in wheelchairWhile it may be best known for retirement, Social Security is also here to help you get back to work if you are disabled. For millions of people, work isn’t just a source of income, it’s a vital part of who they are — it gives them purpose and pride — it’s a connection to community. If you’re getting Social Security disability benefits, we have good news for you. Social Security’s work incentives and Ticket to Work programs can help you if you’re interested in working. Special rules make it possible for people receiving Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to work and still receive monthly payments.

The Ticket to Work program may help you if you’d like to work. You can receive:

  • Free vocational rehabilitation;
  • Training;
  • Job referrals; and
  • Other employment support.

You can read more about working while collecting disability benefits at our website.

Work incentives include:

  • Continued cash benefits for a time while you work;
  • Continued Medicare or Medicaid while you work; and
  • Help with education, training, and rehabilitation to start a new line of work.

If you’re receiving Social Security disability benefits or SSI, let us know right away when you start or stop working, or if any other change occurs that could affect your benefits.

If you returned to work, but you can’t continue working because of your medical condition, your benefits can start again — you may not have to file a new application.

You can learn more about the Ticket to Work program by reading Working While Disabled: How We Can Help.

Part of securing today and tomorrow is giving you the tools to create a fulfilling life. Getting back to work might be part of that. We’re here with a ticket to a secure tomorrow.

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449 thoughts on “Working While Disabled — Social Security Can Help

  1. Can I get a paper to say it’s ok for me to fish without licenses since I’m over 65 thru my computer

    • Hi Ronald, thank you for your question. Social Security has special rules that make it possible for people with disabilities receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to work and still receive monthly payments. These are called work incentives.

      For SSDI beneficiaries, there is a Trial Work Period (TWP) and then an Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE). The TWP allows you to test your ability to work for at least 9 months. During this period, you will receive your full disability benefit regardless of how much you earn as long as your work activity is reported and you continue to have a disabling impairment. In 2020, any month in which earnings exceed $910 is considered a month of the 9-month trial work period.
      Once you’ve completed your TWP, you get a 36-month safety net called the EPE. During the EPE, you get benefits for all months your earnings or work activities are below the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level as long as you continue to have a disabling impairment. Social Security will suspend cash benefits for months earnings are over SGA and start benefits again if earnings fall below the SGA level. In 2020, you are earning SGA if your earnings, after any allowable deductions, are more than $1,260 in a month.

      Check out Social Security’s Red Book for descriptions of the many work incentives.

  2. My son has a brain injury, 15 yrs, and is getting a divorce after 7 years. He needs a lawyer and he is not able to navigate the system due to his injury and the added stress. I am his mother, can I find help for him? Where? He has been working part time for 2 years now, and I don’t know how that will be affected. His wife wants everything. They have a 4yr old daughter. She wants to keep the house, and he has no where to go.

    • Hi Suzanne, thanks for using our blog. If your son is receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), that is a needs-based program that pays benefits to disabled individuals based on financial need, he would need to report his divorce as it could mean a change in his living arrangement. Because the amount of an Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit is based, in part, on an individual’s living arrangements and the number of people in the household, it is important to let us know promptly when any change occurs.

      If your son has applied for benefits and was recently denied, he can appeal that decision within 60 days.

      If your son has questions related to Social Security benefits, he can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or he can contact his local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

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