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The Effect of Returning to Work on SSD Benefits in Kentucky

The-Effect-of-Returning-to-Work-on-SSD-Benefits-ImageIf you are currently disabled and receiving Social Security disability (SSD) benefits, you may want to try your hand at working again. However, you may be concerned about the impact working may have on your SSD benefits. Re-entering the workforce is something that should be done slowly to ensure that your health holds up. It can be frightening to give work a try if you are worried that your benefits won’t be there if working turns out to be impossible.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes the challenges faced by disabled individuals who want to work but who are afraid of losing what may be their only source of income. The SSA may allow you to try working without putting your SSD benefits in jeopardy.

Understanding the SSD’s work rules is essential so that you can re-enter the workforce in a smart way. The experienced Lexington Social Security disability lawyers at the Frank Jenkins Law Office can help you protect your benefits.

Working and SSI

If you are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, your benefits may be reduced if you start to earn a paycheck. That’s because the SSI program is designed for people without financial resources.

The government will begin to reduce your SSI benefits as soon as you exceed monthly income limits. If you stay below these limits, then your benefits should not be affected by your working.

To calculate how your benefits may be affected, the SSI determines how much you have earned over the course of the month. The first $85 that you earn from a job is not counted. Once you earn more than $85, then the SSA will deduct 50 cents from your benefits for each dollar above that amount.

If you earned $100, for example, then the SSA would multiply $0.50 by $100-$85. Since $100 is $15 more than $85, your benefits would be reduced by $0.50 times $15, or $7.50.

The SSA does not simply use the total income that you earn to do this calculation. You are allowed to deduct expenses, including the cost of commuting to your job. So, if it cost you $15 to commute to your work, in the above example you would not be above the $85 limit and your benefits should not be impacted by your job. You can also deduct the cost of training programs or other expenses associated with improving your skills and finding long-term work.

In order to ensure that you are receiving the correct amount of benefits, you are required to report all of your income and all of your work hours to the SSA. Fortunately, if you end up earning too much and your benefits are stopped, you don’t have to worry that you’ll be out of luck if your job becomes too much for you. There is a five-year period called an expedited reinstatement period during which you can resume benefits without reapplying if your income falls.

Working and SSDI

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is different from SSI because it is not needs-based and your family resources are not a qualifying factor. The SSA makes it easier for you to try working while on SSDI since this program isn’t restricted to low-income individuals.

A “trial work period” is used in order to allow you to continue receiving benefits even after you’ve begun earning quite a bit of money while disabled.

Under the trial work period, you are allowed to continue receiving full benefits until you work a total of nine months within a rolling 60-month period. This means that if you work any nine months in a 60-month period, your benefits will be affected. The nine months do not have to be consecutive, but if you have worked fewer than nine months total, your benefits will remain the same.

In order to count as a “work month,” you need to earn at least $750 (as of 2013) after expenses and costs. The expenses that you can deduct in order to reduce your income include commuting costs, the normal costs of doing business and expenses incurred as a result of your disability. If you earn less than $750, the month does not count as one of your nine.

You can also have a “work month” if you are self-employed and you work more than 80 hours over the course of the month. This means if you work at least 80 hours on building or operating a business, you must report this to the SSA.

After you have had nine work months during the rolling 60-month period, your trial work period ends and you enter an extended eligibility period. This lasts for a total of 36 months after the end of the trial work period. During the 36 months, you can receive disability benefits income in any month that you do not have substantial earnings. Substantial earnings are defined $1,040 or more (as of 2013) over the course of a month. Those who are blind can earn up to $1,640. There is no requirement to submit a new application to the SSA.

When this 36-month extended eligibility period ends, you are still protected. You have a five-year expedited reinstatement period, which means that if you need to stop working at any time over the next five years, you can resume receiving SSDI benefits without filing a new application.

Our Kentucky SSD Can Help You Protect Your Right to Benefits

Trial work periods are designed to ensure that you have a chance to try to reenter the workforce without putting your finances at risk. However, there are many rules and regulations you must comply with to secure your SSD benefits while trying to work.

The rules require that you tell the SSA about any work that you do, and you need to make sure to do that in order to avoid getting into legal trouble. You must also continue to meet the SSA’s definition of “disabled” during the time you are working and receiving benefits.

Understanding your rights and responsibilities can be complicated when you are working while on SSD benefits. You should consult with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer for help. At the Frank Jenkins Law Office, our Lexington disability lawyers are here to help with all disability matters.

Give us a call today at 859-389-9344 or contact us using our online form for a free consultation.