Working While Disabled ... How We Can Help
Our website, www.socialsecurity.gov, is a valuable resource for information about all of Social Securitys programs. At our website you also can:
Call our 1-800 number
In addition to using our website, you also can call toll-free at 1-800-772-1213. We can answer specific questions and provide information by automated phone service 24 hours a day. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.
We treat all calls confidentially. We also want to make sure you receive accurate and courteous service. That is why we have a second Social Security representative monitor some telephone calls.
Special rules make it possible for people receiving Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to work and still receive monthly payments until they can work on a regular basis.
And, if you cannot continue working because of your medical condition, your benefits can start again -- you may not have to file a new application.
Work incentives include:
The rules are different under Social Security and SSI. We describe the rules under each program in different sections of this booklet.
Extended period of eligibility -- After your trial work period, you have 36 months during which you can work and still receive benefits for any month your earnings are not substantial. In 2004, earnings of $810 or more ($1,350 if you are blind) are considered substantial. No new application or disability decision is needed for you to receive a Social Security disability benefit during this period.
Quick benefit restart -- After your benefits stop because your earnings are substantial, you have five years during which you may ask us to start your benefits immediately if you find yourself unable to continue working because of your condition. You will not have to file a new disability application and you will not have to wait for your benefits to start while your medical condition is being reviewed to make sure you are still disabled.
Continuation of Medicare -- If your Social Security disability benefits stop because of your earnings, but you are still disabled, your free Medicare Part A coverage will continue for at least 7½ years after the nine-month trial work period. After that, you can buy Medicare Part A coverage by paying a monthly premium.
Work expenses related to your disability -- If you work, you may have to pay for certain items and services that people without disabilities do not pay for. For example, because of your medical condition, you may need to take a taxi to work instead of public transportation. We may be able to deduct the cost of the taxi from your monthly earnings.
We deduct work expenses related to your disability from your earnings before we determine if you are still eligible for benefits. These expenses may include the cost of any item or service you need to work, even if the item or service also is useful to you in your daily living. Examples include prescription drugs, transportation to and from work (under certain conditions), a personal attendant or job coach, a wheelchair or any specialized work equipment.
This means that we will not count those years in which you had little or no earnings because of your disability in figuring your future benefits.
This can help you because your benefits are based on your highest earnings over your work life. For more information on special rules for blind persons, ask Social Security for the publication, If You Are Blind Or Have Low Vision -- How We Can Help (Publication No. 05-10052).
Quick benefit restart --If we stopped your payments because of your earnings and you become unable to work again because of your medical condition, you may ask us to start your payments again. You will not have to file a new disability application if you make this request within five years after the month your benefits stopped.
Work expenses related to your disability -- As with disability under Social Security, if you work, you may have to pay for certain items and services that people without disabilities do not pay for. For example, because of your medical condition, you may need to take a taxi to work, instead of public transportation. We may be able to deduct the cost of the taxi from your monthly earnings.
Plan for achieving self-support -- If you develop a plan for a work goal that will help you leave the SSI rolls, any money you use for this purpose will not be counted when we figure out how your current income and resources affect your payment amount. For more information, ask for our publication, Working While Disabled -- A Guide To Plans For Achieving Self-Support (Publication No. 05-11017).
Students with disabilities -- We do not count up to $1,370 of your earnings a month in 2004 (maximum of $5,520 for 2004) when we compute your SSI payment amount if you:
If your only income besides SSI is the money you make from your job, then we do not count the first $85 of your monthly earnings. We deduct from your SSI payments 50 cents of every dollar you earn after the $85 deduction.
Example: You work and earn $1,000 in December. You receive no other income besides your earnings and your SSI. We would deduct $457.50 from your SSI payment for December.
You may be eligible for a "plan for achieving self-support" which allows you to use money and resources for a specific work goal. These funds do not count when we figure out how your current income and resources affect your benefit amount.
If you qualify for Medicaid under these rules, we will review your case from time to time to see if you are still disabled or blind and still earn less than your state's allowable level.
You can get more information on the Ticket to Work program by calling Maximus, Inc., the ticket program manager, at 1-866-968-7842 toll-free (TTY 1-866-833-2967). Or you can call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY number 1-800-325-0778) and ask for the publication, Your Ticket To Work (Publication No. 05-10061).
This article was provided by U.S. Social Security Administration.