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SSDI/working P/T
Sep 27, 2001

I have recently been approved for SSDI. I am a PhD student starting dissertation work. Since first diagnosed (Nov '00), I have found I feel somewhat better re:fatigue with rest during the day. I have read and re_read the SSDI info re: working and my interpretation is that if I took a part-time job teaching, for example- 1 course for a semester (pay is 1300/semester), it might count as "substantial work" as I'd be doing the same work as non-disabled persons.It's a bit confusing, though I think Social Security tries their best to be clear. What do you think? Thanks a lot!

Response from Ms. Donnelly

I think Social Security does try to be clear but you are right it is very confusing. It is also really important to be sure you have the correct information before making any decisions regarding your benefits. We usually counsel people to find a qualified benefits counselor or a knowledgeable case manager in their local area who can walk them through all of their questions and concerns before any final decisions are made. Often your local AIDS service organization will have such a person or be able to make a referral. If you have trouble locating someone, call the Project Inform hotline at 1-800-822-7422 and ask for the Access Coordinator.

My understanding is that since the Social Security Administration (SSA) defines disability as bening unable to work for more than a year, it is not a good idea to work during your first year on the program. Once you are past the first year, you have some options through the "trial work" program. This would be something to investigate after your first year mark. In the meantime, it would be useful to confirm this with a benefits counselor who may be able to give other information about your benefits as well.

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