Disability Benefits and Work Incentives

Calendar Icon Updated February 21, 2019
Social Security Disability

Social Security pays disability benefits to those who cannot work because they have a medical condition. To receive Social Security Disability Benefits, one must fully meet the disability definition and secure the work requirements necessary in jobs covered.

However, once receiving benefits, it’s important that those who can do some work eventually immerse themselves back into a working environment. The immersion process is encouraged through Social Security Work Incentives, special rules that incentivize people with disabilities to slowly head back to the workforce while still receiving monthly payments.

Work Incentives provided by the Social Security Administration include continued benefits, continued Medicare or Medicaid and educational or vocational training or help.

Work Incentives

The first incentive available is the Trial Work Period. Trial Work is a 9-month period in which one can work and receive monthly benefits regardless of how much money he or she is earning. This 9-month trial can take place at any time within a 60-month period. In 2015, any month in which total earnings were more than $780 is considered a Trial Work Month.

An Extended Period of Eligibility is the second work incentive. This Period lasts for 36 months following the conclusion of the Trial Work Period. During this timeframe, people can work and still receive benefits so long as the monthly earnings are not substantial in the eyes of the Social Security Administration. Substantial earnings in 2015 were more than $1,090.

Another Work Incentive, Expedited Reinstatement, is also available for those whose benefits have stopped because of earning substantial wages in the workforce. Benefits can be reinstated without a new social security disability application within five years of the date they ended.

Workers can also look forward to a continuation of Medicare should disability benefits stop because of earnings. Medicare Part A coverage will continue for 93 months following that initial 9-month Trial Work Period.

Another form of a work incentive comes when the Social Security Administration calculates substantial earnings. The Administration can deduct work-related expenses from monthly earnings before deciding if they’re too substantial for benefits.

In these cases, work-related expenses might include taxis too and from work should a disability prevent someone from taking public transportation or driving. Any item or service that those without a severe medical condition may not need to pay can be considered and deducted.

Eligibility Team

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