Working While Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits in Rhode Island

Working while applying for or receiving disability income may affect your eligibility for SSD benefits. Before you start a job, you should talk to a lawyer to understand the impact working may have on your receipt of disability benefits.

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Marasco & Nesselbush is the premier Social Security Disability law firm in Rhode Island. Since 1999, our attorneys have represented thousands of clients before the Social Security Administration. We know the Social Security Disability (SSD) system inside and out. We stand ready to provide the guidance you need to make an informed choice and protect your legal rights.

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Can I Work While Applying for Disability Benefits?

At Marasco & Nesselbush, we never advise clients “not to work.” We believe it is every person’s responsibility to support himself or herself. Depending on how much you work and the circumstances surrounding your work, it may or may not affect your disability application. If you are engaged in significant work, otherwise known as “substantial gainful activity” when you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, your claim may be denied. As of 2014, this means that your gross income cannot be more than $1,070 per month or more than $1,800 if you are blind.

If you are already receiving SSI or SSDI, going back to work may cause a reduction in your benefits or the complete loss of monthly payments. However, SSI and SSDI treat your efforts to work differently.

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The Effects of Working on SSDI Benefits

If you are receiving SSDI benefits, a “trial work period” allows you to make an effort to re-enter the workforce without risking your benefits.

You may work for as long as nine months over a rolling 60-month period before your benefits may be affected. The nine months can occur at any time over a 60-month period and do not have to be consecutive.

As of 2014, a month is considered a “trial work month” if you earn $770 or more after expenses, including any additional costs you incur to work due to your disability. If you spend at least 80 hours building your own business over the course of a month, then that month will be considered a “trial work month.”

Once you have worked for nine months, you enter into an extended eligibility period, which lasts for another 36 months. During this time, you may receive benefits in any month in which you don’t have “substantial earnings.” This means as long as your gross income is less than $1,070 (as of 2014), you can still get SSDI benefits for that month.

During the extended eligibility period, if you earn over $1,070 a month your monthly disability benefits will stop. However, you remain eligible for Medicare  Part A for 93 months after the end of your trial work period. After this time, you will be able to keep your Medicare coverage if you pay the premiums.

Finally, an expedited reinstatement period continues for five years after you have returned to work. This means if at any time during these five years you decide you can no longer work, you can restart your SSDI benefits without having to go through a new application process.

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The Effects of Working on SSI Benefits

SSI is different from SSDI because it is means-tested and need-based. If you start working while receiving SSI, your benefits may be reduced or stopped.

The first $85 in income you earn (as of 2014) does not count toward a reduction in your SSI benefits. After you have earned at least $85 per month, then you will have a $0.50 reduction in benefits for each $1 you earn. For example, if you earned $185, your monthly benefits would be reduced by $50.

The Social Security Administration provides an extended eligibility period for SSI recipients, as well as for SSDI recipients. This means if you start working and your benefits stop but you have to quit due to your medical condition, you can resume your benefits again without needing to submit a new application.

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Can You Work While Receiving SSD Benefits? Our Lawyers Have Answers.

At Marasco & Nesselbush, our experienced Rhode Island personal injury attorneys are dedicated to ensuring that disabled individuals understand the relationship between work and disability benefits in order to best plan for your financial security. Are you working while receiving SSD benefits? We are ready to advise you on all aspects of receiving disability income, and we will do everything possible to help you to maximize your benefits.

Call or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team to discuss your questions about work and or its effect on your SSD benefits.