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SSA Incentive To Return To Work When You Are Receiving SSDI


Social Security provides the following incentives for people receiving an income from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): 

  • A trial work period : There is a 9 month trial work period during which your Social Security benefits are not affected by your income from work. The 9 months do not need to be consecutive. However, the 9 months must be within a period of 60 months.
  • Extended period of elibility: You can receive a benefit for any month your earnings fall below the dollar amount of  Social Security's "substantial gainful activity" level for at least 36 months after the 9 month trial work period ends. In 2013, the substantial gainful activity level is $1,040 per month ($1,740 for people who are statutorily blind.)
  • Benefits can be reinstated easily if it turns out you are unable to work. If you become unable to work again because of the same or related medical condition, and it occurs within 60 months after your extended period of eligibility (3 years) has ended, you do not need to file a new disability application for Social Security benefits.
  • Medicare continues: If you have premium-free medical hospital insurance from Social Security and you start working, you may receive at least 8 1/2 years of extended coverage, including the 9 month trial work period.  After the 8 1/2 year period, you can continue your Medicare coverage by paying the monthly premium. 
  • Impairment-Related Work Expenses: You can deduct work expenses related to your impairment when Social Security calculates your earnings to determine if you are performing substantial work.
  • Recovery during vocational rehabilitation: If you medically recover while participating in a vocational rehabilitation program (a program leading you toward becoming self-supporting) your benefits may continue until the program ends.
  • Help for low income beneficiaries: If you get Medicare and have a low income and few resources, your state may pay your Medicare premiums and possibly other Medicare expenses, such as deductibles and coinsurance.  Contact your state or local welfare office or Medicaid agency to see if you qualify.

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