Many recipients of social security disability, SSDI are hesitant to go back to work or start any form of small business or activity to earn a little income doing work they can despite the disability. Many people have contacted our lawyers that they fear their social security checks might be in jeopardy if they do work. But that is not the case. The social security disability program is designed to accommodate people with disabilities as much as possible so they don't miss out on life if they are disabled. That is why the social security administration allows you to test your ability to work or actually go back to work while still retaining your disability benefits in the process.
The Trial Work Period, TWP
You get the chance of earning an unlimited amount of income during the initial trial work period of nine months, not necessarily consecutive months, within the period of initiating your trial work period of 60 months. Your disability benefits will not be reduced or cancelled during this period.
If you earn more than $850 per month for nine months or if you work more than 80 hours as a freelancer or business person, owner, consultant, gardener, in a month, then your benefits will not be jeopardized during that period and the months will be counted in the trial month period.
You will need to notify the SSA about each month's earnings till the tenth month of your trial work period so you may not be penalized due to work. Failure to do so will get your benefits terminated.
When you successfully enter the tenth month of working while your disability is still there, then you enter the Exended Period of Eligibility, EPE for another 36 months I.e., three years period. During this time you may continue earning your full disability benefits provided that you are still disabled and notify the SSA of your subsequent earnings each month of work. Also it is necessary during the EPE that you earn an income below the substantial gainful activity, SGA that is $1180 for non-blind people and $1970 for the blind till the time of writing this article.
When the EPE period ends, you will still continue to earn full benefits as long as you are disabled and earn less than SGA.
You may consult our professional social security attorney for more specialized guidance on your disability, work and medical conditions.