Working While You’re on Social Security Disability: Part Two

November 22, 2016

In our last blog, we covered some basics about working while you collect SSD or SSI. Here, our Philadelphia Social security Disability lawyers will explain the process and your options moving forward.

What is the Trial Work Period?

Intended to enable disabled individuals to work and retain their entire monthly payment from the SSA, the TWP is a period of either consecutive or nonconsecutive nine months, in which individuals can make an unlimited amount of money without their disability benefits being reduced, over the course of sixty months (or 1825 days). A month where you make more than $810 constitutes a TWP month; a month where you make less than $810 does not constitute a TWP month. Or, if you are self-employed, a month where you put in at least eighty workhours constitutes a TWP month.

Before taxes, every bit of your monthly wages is considered whether you exceed the $810 TWP limit; nevertheless, you generally can subtract out-of-pocket disability costs related to your job. You must notify the SSA of your monthly work wages for the months you work while collecting SSD or SSI payments. When the nine months end and the tenth month begins, mail the SSA a certified letter and a copy of your paycheck and any out-of-pocket disability costs related to your job. If you fail to mail the SSA a certified letter and copy of your paycheck on time, you may lose your SSD or SSI benefits.

If you fear that your TWP would cause your SSD or SS payments to end when the SSA does a Continuing Disability Review (CDR) on your situation, do not worry. Usually, the subjects of CDRs are selected at random, and if your CDR is conducted during your TWP, your TWP likely will not be a cause for concern for the SSA. In a CDR, the SSA reviews an individual’s medical records to determine if he or she still has a disability; an individual’s TWP job and income are not considered in a CDR.

What is the Extended Period of Eligibility?

After your nine months of the TWP end, you have reached the Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE) where you retain your entire monthly SSD or SSI payments over the course of 36 months (or 1095 days). However, during those 36 months, you still must have your disability and make money that is less than the SSA’s Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). As of 2016, the SSGA for individuals who are not blind is $1,130, and the SGA for individuals who are blind is $1,820.

If you make more money than the SGA amount in any of the 36 months of the EPE, you will not receive said month’s whole SSD or SSI payment. In addition, the SSA will determine that since you make more than the SGA, you are no longer disabled, and your SSD or SSI benefits will end. However, you have two months before your SSD or SSI payments completely end. But if sometime later you quit working or make less than the SGA during the 36 months of the EPE, you should notify the SSA, and it likely will reopen your case and send you monthly payments without requiring you to complete a new SSD or SSI application.

After the 36 months of the EPE have passed, you will retain your SSD or SSI if you remain disabled and make less than the SGA amount. If you make more than the SGA amount for at least a month after the 36 months have passed, your SSD or SSI payments will end. Nevertheless, if your disability causes you to quit working again after the EPE, you may qualify to have your case reopened and your payments resumed as long as you have quit working within five years since the EPE.

What about exclusions?

The SSA offers a few options for people who want to work: Earned Income Exclusion (EIE), Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE), and Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS). As the name suggests, earned income is your job wages. In its EIE program, the SSA will subtract the first 65 dollars of your earned income and half of the remaining money amount that is greater than 65 dollars from the monthly SSD or SSI payments it sends you. Thus, your countable income is lowered, and lowering your countable income helps reduce the impact your job wages have on the amount of your SSD or SSI payments.

Under SEIE, if you are a student of any sort and younger than 22 years old, the SSA might ignore no more than $1,780 of your monthly earnings each calendar year as of 2016. To qualify for SEIE, you are to attend classes weekly. If you are somewhere between a seventh grader and a high school senior, you are to attend twelve or more hours’ worth of classes every week, and if you are a college or university student, you are to attend eight or more hours’ worth of classes every week. If you attend job training courses, you are to attend somewhere between twelve and fifteen hours’ worth of training every week. In addition, if your disability prevents you from attending school but you are being or have been taught in your home, you may qualify for SEIE. Moreover, PASS allows you to keep some of your earnings to pay for tuition, job equipment, and the like later.

Obtaining benefits can be tricky; you want an experienced Philadelphia Social Security Disability attorney on your side Larry Pitt & Associates can help. For more information, contact us or call 888.PITT.LAW to schedule an appointment at any of our offices serving Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties.