If by any chance you got into an unfortunate accident that resulted in temporary disability, then you should know that you are entitled to disability benefits.
Disability benefits are given to individuals who are suffering from a work-related injury or illness that caused them to lose an important physical function needed to perform their jobs. The benefit serves as provisional aid for all the time an employee is bound by the disability – be it permanent or temporary. After all, life doesn’t stop for someone who’s disabled a hand or a foot. Someone still needs to put bread on the table. Unfortunately, that someone can’t be our poor, bedbound friend who got injured at work. So while the employee in question is still busy recuperating, Social Security provides ample financial assistance through disability benefits.
But c’mon, let’s be practical. Just how much can the government provide to help not just us, but our families get through everyday life? We need more than just the benefit assistance to put bread on the table, send our kids to school, give our youngsters a chance at college, and pay for our medication. We need another source of income.
But getting a job means losing your benefits, right? Well, good news is that there are ways for you to earn your keep without losing your Social Security aid. And we’re here to tell you how.
I’m just going to come out and say the good news first: You can work and earn any amount of income while still receiving your Social Security Disability Benefits. But as you may have already guessed, every good thing comes with a “not-so-good” one. In this case, you can WORK and RECEIVE benefits at the same time but only for a while. This is what we call the Trial-Work Period.
During the trial-work period, an employee is given nine (9) whole months to try their hand at working again. It doesn’t matter if your disability is temporary or permanent. The state only has to determine that you are able to work again without much difficulty and provide for your needs. And nine months is ample time for you to find that out. Moreover, the 9-month period doesn’t even have to be consecutive.
For example, you go back to work on the month of March thinking your body can already handle it. Unfortunately, your body is still not fit enough to work so you stop working around the end of May to take a short leave. That’s three (3) months. Feeling fine, you go back to work on the month of July – and this time, indefinitely. The period of March to May (3 months) and July (1 month) are the only ones counted under the 9-month trial period. The month of June, in which the employee was deemed to be unfit for work, is not counted off the 9 months. This means that the employee stops working again sometime after July, the 9-month countdown will cease to continue as well. In other words, you get a FULL 9-month trial-work period.
Also, let me mention one more thing. If your gross income for the month is less than $750 or if you are work less than 80-hours per month in self-employment, the period in which you work under these conditions is not counted against your 9 months of trial work. This means that you can run a small business while keeping your SSID benefits. Or, do part-time work for 3 hours a day, 3 times a week.
Extended Period of Eligibility
Say, your 9-month trial-work period is over. Don’t worry. You still have 36 months of extended eligibility of Social Security Disability Benefits – that is, if your impairment still prevails to this period. The difference between the 9-month trial-work period and the extended period of eligibility lies in the amount of income you receive per month (gross). During the trial-work period, you can earn as much as you want for 9 whole months and still receive your SSID benefits. During the extended period of eligibility, things aren’t so lenient.
When you enter the extended period of eligibility, your gross income is monitored by Social Security every month. After all, it is what will determine your benefit eligibility for the month. The rule is simple, really. When your earnings go above the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level, you will receive zero benefits for the month. When your earnings go below the SGA level, you will receive full benefit for the month. As of 2013, a person’s income is considered substantial when it is equal or more than $1,040 – or $1,740 when the person is visually impaired. This means that your benefits will depend on whether you go over or below this amount. Your benefits will highly depend on your gross income during the 36-month extended period of eligibility and will be suspended for every month that you go over the SGA. Note that the SGA level/amount is adjusted by Social Security annually. Be sure to check before you participate in any type of income-generating work.
Reinstatement of Benefits
At some point, people will have to let go of their SSID benefits altogether – especially, when their income-generating activities become stable. After all, there are many other workers who are also in need of Social Security Benefits. However, in the unfortunate chance that your disability becomes chronic or relapses after a while, you can get in touch with Social Security for reinstatement. This is also applicable for employees who have gotten a secondary disability resulting from their former disability.
The reinstatement period lasts up to five years after the trial-work period has ended. The process is expedited so you don’t have to worry much about waiting for approval. You may also request for temporary or provisional benefits for up to 6 months while your assessment is ongoing. The only requirement to be met for your claim to be granted is substantial proof that you are medically unfit to come back to work again and thus the need to reinstate your SSID benefits.