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What are work incentives under Social Security Disability?

For many New Jersey residents who are receiving Social Security Disability benefits, their first goal is to return to work. However, they are confronted with the very real concern that they will try to work and find they are unable to continue. It is a worry as to whether they can get their benefits again and the speed at which this can occur. Fortunately, there are work incentives for those getting SSD benefits. Knowing what the work incentives are as well as their requirements is important before making the attempt to get back to work.

The person has the right to a trial work period. This is a set amount of time at which the person can try to get back to work for at least nine months. While using the trial work period, the person will keep getting the SSD benefits in full no matter how much they are earning. This is contingent on reporting to work and still having the disability. Currently, the trial work month will be a month in which the total earnings go beyond $840. For the self-employed, it will be a trial work month if they earn more than $840 post-expenses or work more than 80 hours in their own business. The nine months will fall within a 60-month period.

An extended period of eligibility gives 36 months for the person to work and receive benefits for any month they do not make what is considered a "substantial" amount. Currently, that is $1,170 and $1,950 for a person who is blind. Expedited reinstatement is for a person who loses benefits because of substantial earnings. They will be given five years to request that the benefits restart if they cannot continue to work. No new application is needed.

For those whose SSD benefits stop due to earnings but they remain disabled, they can keep getting Medicare Part A for a minimum of 93 months after the nine-month trial work period. After that, they can buy into Medicare Part A. With Medicare Part B, premiums must still be paid. People who have work expenses because of the disabilities might be able to have them deducted from the monthly earnings prior to the decision as to whether the recipient can keep getting benefits.

Disabled people who are having issues with their benefits after having tried to get back to work or are unaware of the process with work incentives should speak to a legal professional experienced in Social Security Disability cases.

Source:, "Working While Disabled: How We Can Help -- Social Security work incentives at a glance, pages 2-4," accessed on Oct. 16, 2017

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