Earning Money While Collecting Social Security Disability

If you receive a monthly benefit amount from the SSA (Social Security Administration), you may already be aware that you cannot continue to work at your job and continue to receive benefits. However, the SSA recognizes the need for people to go back to work and earn money in some capacity, so they have put in place a program that allows participants to do just that.

The Trial Work Period

If you are receiving Social Security Disability payments and would like to "try out" returning to work to earn more money than your current disability payment currently provides, the Trial Work Period could be right for you. The Social Security Administration's Trial Work Period allows people a limited number of months in which they may earn an unlimited amount of earnings, without losing their monthly benefits. If you are interested in returning to a job and earning money, read below for more information about the Trial Work Period (TWP) program.

The TWP program's rules and regulations are very specific:

  1. You can continue to receive your usual Social Security Disability Insurance monthly benefit amount while participating in the TWP and you may earn an unlimited amount of money during that time.
  2. You may participate in the TWP program for 9 out of 60 months (60 months = 5 years). There is no requirement that the months be consecutive.
  3. Once your earnings exceed $780.00 per month from your work, you will be deemed to be in the TWP program. You may deduct some work-related expenses from the $780.00, which could keep you from qualifying for the TWP for that particular month. Since you can earn an unlimited amount of money while on the TWP program, it would be to your advantage to save your TWP eligibility months for the higher earning months.

  • For example, if you earned $825.00 one month, but used special transportation with a wheelchair lift to get to your job that costs $100.00, your income would fall to $725.00, thus excluding you from the TWP program for that month. You would not need to count that particular month toward the maximum 9 month limit.

Continuing Disability Reviews

In order to ensure that SSDI beneficiaries still qualify for benefits, the SSA conducts spot checks. These Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR) are often triggered by earning reports. While being a participant in the TWP in and of itself may not trigger a CDR, the SSA may take a look at the work you are doing to earn money and reevaluate if you are still medically unable to do work. If you are basically doing the same type of work that you did before being deemed disabled, you may be at risk for losing your benefits if the CDI finds that your condition has improved enough to disqualify you for SSDI.

Contact a Social Security disability law firm such as Ball & Ferrari for more information about the TWP program and how to earn money without losing your benefits.