Disability

Working While Disabled — Social Security Can Help

August 2, 2018 • By

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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Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

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  1. Allie

    If I am receiving SSDI and am earning 275 per week, what happens when I have 3 pay weeks in a month and it puts me over sga?

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Allie, thanks for using our blog. 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.

      For specific questions regarding your work activity, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your 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.

      Reply
      • Traviw wessman

        Dont EVER go over 1260 or current s.g.a or they will shut it off and you have to go through an i nvestigation i am doing it now it sucks. they will tell you to work with your employer to not work those weeks when there are more pay periods in a month. by by medical confidentiality.and your job.

        Reply
        • Sean Kayes

          Hi. Maybe you can answer. Do es. SS. Consider “a month” as a calendar month or any 30 day period. Say you make more than 1260 oct 15th to nov 15th but make less than 1260 in both months? Thanks

          Reply
  2. Michael Gannon

    Hi my name mike and i collect disability benefits
    My question is how much money will i be able to make and not lose my benefits

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Michael, 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.

      Reply
      • Rob

        This is untrue for Illinois. There are no 36-months after the trail. They tell you you must stay under $900 other wise you will lose your disability they make it impossible for a disabled person to live. I receive very little on my SSDI I’m married and my husband is all so disabled by the courts as well. The judge knowingly approved his disability knowing this. Still yet our local office found him still disabled but stopped his benefits. He can’t work I’m unable to, I had to stop my Medicare due to this. It’s better not to work and sit at home don’t get married and live in shoebox because if someone gives you $1.00 they will count that as income and use it against you.

        Reply
    • gail A wyre

      I was just looking o see how much money I would be able to get and work part time

      Reply
  3. Rusty Cook

    The Edmond Oklahoma office is so rude and don’t look at anything, I have a mental illness that makes it where time doesn’t mean anything, ie 5 minutes is an hour to me. The only way I can work is wake up early THAT morning, write the time down, look at it again fives times and still average 5 minutes late! Part of being bipolar is manic episodes, when they occur my employee allows me to walk away, provide me with breaks, some employees work circles around me. Then they added a COVID bonus. The rules say when the money is earned, not when it is paid, the Edmond office, doesn’t care and will not change this illegal practice, they hate the job so bad, I’m actually afraid to go in there. One employee told me they are coming for everything I owned including all land and home. Thanks for helping a person with High anxiety And Bipolar disorder who wants to be working worse off. That’s a great thought for all. I have also been severally discriminated against by the way I dress. One day I had to stop by in sweat pants and another in a suit and tie because I had a job interview. So close to getting a job and getting on with the ticket to work but what good are rules if the SSA office in Edmond doesn’t even follow them as outlined in the Redbook. My appeal took less than a week, denied. No help at all a building with souless employees who hate people, they won’t even look you in the eye and are instantly aggressive and argumentative like there omnipotent or something!

    Reply

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