Returning to Work After Receiving SSDI: What You Need to Know

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits is a crucial lifeline for many individuals facing disabling conditions, providing financial support during challenging times. However, as circumstances change, many recipients may wonder about the possibility of returning to work. Let’s explore the basics of returning to work when receiving SSDI benefits, shedding light on the key considerations and steps you need to take.

Trial Work Period:

The Trial Work Period (TWP) is an important and very useful return-to-work tool. The Social Security Administration (SSA) allows individuals receiving SSDI benefits to test their ability to work for at least nine months (within a rolling 60-month period) without risking loss of benefits. In any month that your gross earnings exceed an annually adjusted trial work period services amount (available here, www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/twp.html), one month of the trial work period is used.  This Trial Work Period provides a safety net, allowing recipients to explore their capacity to re-enter the workforce with no change in the payment of benefits. After the nine-month trial work period is ended, however, SSA will review whether the work activity demonstrates that you are no longer disabled. If it determines that your work was “substantial,” your benefits may stop.

Extended Period of Eligibility:

Once you’ve completed the Trial Work Period (and SSA did not find your work “substantial”), a 36- consecutive-month Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE) begins. During this period, you can work and still receive benefits for any month your earnings don’t exceed an earnings threshold known as Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).  This gross earnings amount is adjusted annually (available here, www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/sga.html#). Benefits are suspended in any month that your earnings exceed SGA during this period (except for a 3-month grace period).  Benefits will continue after the end of the 36-month EPE, if you do not perform SGA work.  But the first month you perform SGA work after the EPE will trigger termination of your benefits.

Expedited Reinstatement:

If you lose your benefits because of your work activity, the SSA provides a simpler path to reinstatement of benefits in some circumstances called Expedited Reinstatement (EXR).  If during the five years after loss of benefits, you become unable to perform SGA work again due to the same or related medical conditions for which you were earlier approved, you can request that your benefits start again without having to complete a new application.

Reporting Earnings and Work Activity:

During the Trial Work Period and beyond, it’s crucial to keep the SSA informed about any changes in your work activity or earnings. Timely and accurate reporting ensures transparency and helps the SSA make adjustments to your benefits accordingly. Failure to report changes may result in overpayment or complications down the line.

Ticket to Work Program:

The SSA offers the Ticket to Work Program, which supports career development services for recipients of SSDI who want to work. The Ticket Program is free and voluntary. The SSA says, “It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.”  One nice aspect of this program is that the SSA will not conduct medical reviews to determine if medical improvement has occurred while you are participating in it.

Continuing to Document Your Medical Condition:

Throughout the process of returning to work, don’t neglect your medical conditions.  Continue to obtain medical care. The SSA periodically reviews your conditions to determine whether improvement has occurred (unless you are in the Ticket to Work Program), and it is critical that you have medical documentation that supports your continuing impairments.  

Seeking Professional Guidance:

Returning to work after receiving SSDI involves navigating a maze of rules and regulations. Seeking professional guidance from experienced attorneys who specialize in disability law can be instrumental in ensuring a smooth transition. The attorneys at Roose & Ressler can provide valuable insights and help you understand your rights and responsibilities..

The Roose & Ressler Team is located in Lorain, Toledo, and Wooster, Ohio. You can count on us as your local disability specialist to analyze your case thoroughly to determine what is necessary for you to receive benefits. We assess the best methods on how to prove the crucial facts of your case and gather the necessary evidence. Having 40+ years of experience serving Northern Ohioans, we know the ins and outs of the local disability process.

Access our free tool:

Guide to Preparing and Applying for
Social Security Disability

For something this important, trust the team that knows.

We know our way around the process. We know what works and what doesn’t. We know specifically how to handle cases in northern Ohio and have four locations to serve you.

Hiring Roose & Ressler can alleviate the feeling of being alone throughout the process. We act as your point person and will be here to answer all your questions. We’ll make sure you meet the necessary deadlines and requirements for the appeals process.

If you’re ready to get started, call us for a free consultation.