If you are disabled, you may wonder whether you will lose your Social Security Disability benefits if you are ever able to work again. It is possible to work and collect disability payments, but you need to understand the rules.
The Social Security Administration allows a trial work period to transition workers from disability to employment. This program allows you to work for nine months while collecting your disability benefits. You can work these nine months consecutively or spread them out over a period of 60 months.
You must work at least 80 hours each month if you are self-employed.
You must earn more than $770 per month for your work to be considered as trial work. If you earn less, you are not considered working for the purposes of this program. If you lose your job during the trial work period, your benefits will continue.
After the trial work period ends, you can continue to work and collect benefits during what is called an extended period of eligibility. This period lasts for 36 consecutive months.
If you earn no more than $1,070 per month during this period ($1,800 if you are blind), you can keep your disability benefits. If you earn more than $1,070, you are allowed to deduct disability-related work expenses, such as having to take a taxi to work because of your disability, from your pay and continue to receive benefits if your net is below $1,070. If your net pay after deducting your expenses is over $1,070 in a month, you are not eligible for disability benefits in that month.
There is a grace period during which you can keep your pay and disability benefits for the first three months after beginning the period of eligibility, even if your pay exceeds the limit.
If your pay decreases, you become eligible for benefits again during the 36-month period. If you lose your job during the extended eligibility period, you must contact the Social Security Administration to have benefits reinstated.
If you earned above the limit but must stop working due to your disability, you can ask the Social Security Administration to restart your benefits. You must make this request within five years of when your benefits end. You do not need to file a new application in this situation.