Transitioning Back to Work After Being Out on Social Security Disability Benefits

January 17, 2017

Anyone who has been approved for Social Security Disability benefits knows how challenging it can be to get their claim approved, so naturally if someone who has been out of work on disability might be a bit hesitant when the time comes for them to return to work. Here is a typical question we might get about this issue:

Q: I have been out of work for almost six years on Social Security Disability Benefits. My health has been steadily improving and I am feeling restless. I really want to return to work, but what happens if I start going back to work again, but then find that it is too much for me? Also, what if I am unable to find a position in my previous field? I am nervous about getting back into the working world, but I want to feel productive again. What can I do?

A: The question has several parts, so we will tackle each part one at a time. You said that your health is improving and you are feeling restless. Has your doctor signed off on you returning to work? If so, are they recommending any restrictions such as how many hours at a time that you can sit or stand, limits on how much you can lift, etc.? If you are confident that you feel healthy enough and your doctor approves, then it is fine for you to start looking for work.

The second part of the question is your fear that you will not be able to handle going back to the routine of getting up early in the morning, showing up to work on time and doing the work at a satisfactory level. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers an expedited reinstatement program, which gives you five years to request a restart of your benefits if you find that you are unable to work. You will not have to file a new application or go through a waiting period for your benefits while the SSA reviews your current medical condition.

Next, you expressed concern that you would not be able to find a position in your previous field. If your skills are outdated and you might need to update your skills. There are Employment Networks and State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies that offer many different services to help those who have disabilities get back into the workforce in your previous career or in a new one.

Finally, regarding the perfectly normal sense of nervousness about getting back out there in the working world, establishing new routines, and even testing your level of stamina, you might try volunteering. You could choose a non-profit in your area where you could volunteer your time and expertise. Create a schedule and commit to showing up a certain number of hours each week. Pace yourself stay in touch with your doctor about how you are feeling and then re-assess your plans.

We have a series of posts that cover your next steps: Working While You’re on Social Security Disability Part One and Part Two.

It might feel like a daunting process to transition back into the work world after having been out of work due to a disabling illness or injury. If you have been receiving Social Security benefits in Pennsylvania, you probably have a lot of questions for our experienced Philadelphia Social Security Disability attorneys at Larry Pitt & Associates. You are welcome to contact us or call 888.PITT.LAW to schedule an appointment at any of our office locations serving Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties to find out what we can do to serve you.