You may think that you cannot earn any money while you receive disability benefits, but that’s not true! You are able to have some additional income without jeopardizing your benefits. It’s important to understand the rules and regulations around the limits of the allowable income. Let’s take a look.
Social Security has special work incentives including continued cash benefits for a time while you work, continued Medicare or Medicaid while working, help with education, training, and rehabilitation to start a new career. The “Ticket to Work” program offers employment support and does not require you to undergo medical reviews while you are using the free ticket and make progress to return to work.
To help support those that want to rejoin the workforce, Social Security offers a trial work period that lets you test your ability to work for nine months. During this time, you will receive your full Social Security benefits no matter how much money you earn. In 2016, a trial work month includes any month where your earnings are over $810. Self-employed individuals must make $810 after expenses or work more than 80 hours in their own business. The nine months of the trial work period continues until all months are worked within a 60-month period.
After the trial work period, Social Security allows you to work and receive benefits for an additional 36 months for any month where you do not have substantial earnings. Earnings over $1,130 ($1,820 if you are blind) are considered substantial in 2016. Should your benefits stop as a result of substantial earnings, you may ask to restart your benefits within five years if you become unable to work as a result of your condition. You are not required to file a new application or wait for the benefits to restart while your medical condition is reviewed.
Keep in mind that if you do decide to go back to work while you receive disability benefits, you may have to pay for work-related expenses that people without a disability may not. For example, if you cannot drive, you may need to take a taxi to work. On the other hand, you will not have to pay for gas since you would not be using a car so some expenses may be a wash. However, while you are receiving disability benefits, some work-related expenses may be able to be deducted from your monthly earnings before deciding if you remain eligible for benefits.