Abromson & Carey, Attorneys at Law
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How does trying to return to work affect my disability payments?


Many people in New Jersey who are receiving Social Security disability have the long-term goal of returning to work. A common concern, however, is what might happen if a person who is receiving disability tries to return to work and is unable to do so. It is important to understand the federal regulations for the trial work period (TWP) for those receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

The TWP allows a claimant to try and work for a minimum of nine months. During this period, the full amount of SSDI will be received no matter how much is earned on the job as long as the claimant goes to work and has a disabling impairment. The TWP will begin when the claimant works and performs services. Currently, the amount for it to be considered as services during TWP is if more than $780 each month is earned. TWP will continue until nine months have passed. It does not necessarily have to be consecutive. This is within a rolling period of 60 months.

Once the TWP is completed, the claimant starts the Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE). During this time, the Social Security Administration will conduct an evaluation of the work and earnings and come to a decision as to whether it is possible to work at the level of Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). Those who work at SGA level within one year of the beginning of the impairment and prior to the claim being approved are not eligible for disability or TWP. Medical evidence can be considered at any juncture. There is no disability review if there is participating in the Ticket to Work program. If there is an attempt to return to work and it is unsuccessful, it does not apply during the TWP.

For those who are receiving SSDI due to an inability to work for any reason and would like to try to get back to work have the option of doing so through the TWP program. This provides an opportunity to try and still receive benefits if the issues prevent a return to work. Discussing the matter with a legal professional can garner information of the details of this program and its applicability to the individual situation.

Source: ssa.gov, "Trial Work Period (TWP) (SSDI eligible)," accessed on July 16, 2015

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