How Work Affects Your Benefits
It is possible to collect benefits even if you return to work. If your disability is temporary, you can still get benefits. Sometimes people recover from an illness or injury and go back to work. If you’ve been disabled for at least 12 months, you may be eligible for a “closed period” of benefits. That means you can get an award limited to the amount of time you were disabled.
In these cases, the fact that you returned to work gives you more credibility. It removes the suspicion of malingering, or attempting to appear disabled when you’re not. If a convincing presentation can be made to the judge with medical proof that demonstrates conclusively that you weren’t able to work, you stand an excellent chance of winning benefits, which may be substantial.
In one case the firm handled, a client in his late 30s suffered a debilitating back injury and was unable to work, yet was refused benefits. He eventually did return to his prior employment and was due back benefits of $26,000. We appealed the case and won by making a compelling presentation with MRIs, X-rays and other medical evidence.
Get Benefits While Working Part Time
It’s possible to work part time and qualify for benefits, as long as your earnings don’t exceed the substantial gainful activity limitation of $1,170 per month. That amount is usually slightly increased each year to keep up with the cost of living.
With both Social Security Disability and SSI cases, some clients suffer from conditions that enable them to work part time, but they are unable to handle a regular job. This is frequently the situation with those who have serious back injuries. They can work for a day or two and then need several days after that to recover. If you’re in this category of applicants, you can still get benefits, depending on how much you work and earn. The amount of SSI benefits you receive may be reduced due to your income, but you’ll still be financially ahead of the game with an award.
You’re better off working if you can. Most of us feel better about ourselves when we’re employed and have a daily purpose. You have more money and generally an improved outlook on your life and future.
If you’re receiving SSD benefits and you’re unsure of your ability to work, you can request a trial work period. This can extend up to nine months and will allow you to work without jeopardizing your eligibility for benefits. If you can’t sustain three months or more on the job, you can have it considered as an unsuccessful work attempt and still qualify for benefits.