Can I Work While Receiving Social Security Disability?
Yes, you can work while receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI). The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a program that helps people on disability return to word and still receive their disability benefits, as long as their income does not exceed a threshold. The program is called Ticket to Work. Ticket to Work arranges free vocational training, rehabilitation, job referrals and employment assistance for those on SSDI that are interested in returning to work.
If you enroll in the Ticket to Work program, you will be given a Trial Work Period (TWP), which allows you to test your ability to work for at least nine months. During your TWP, you will receive full SSDI benefits no matter how much you earn as long as your work activity is reported and you have a disabling impairment. Your nine months of TWP does not have to be used consecutively. In addition, for the income earned in a particular month to count toward your nine month TWP, you have to earn $840 per month or more in 2017.
After the nine month TWP expires, if you want to continue to work, you will be put in a special status called Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE), which lasts for another 36 months. During this 36 months, you can receive benefits for any month in which your earnings do not exceed the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) threshold for that year. The SGA amount for persons with disabilities other than blindness is $1,180 per month in 2018. For persons who are blind, the SGA amount is $1,970 per month in 2018 . This means for 2018, if you are in the EPE period, your disability benefits will be suspended for months in which you earn more than $1,180 and paid for months in which you earns less than $1,180.
The EPE only applies to people on SSDI. If you are on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you do not qualify for EPE.
If you get off Social Security Disability, can you get back on?
If your SSDI or SSI benefits ended because you successfully returned to work, you may be able to get your benefits reinstated right away if you stop working again. This is called Expedited Reinstatement (EXR). To be eligible for EXR, you have to have stopped working within 5 years of when your benefits ended. The EXR program allows you to receive up to 6 months of temporary cash benefits while the SSA conducts a medical review to decide if your benefits should be reinstated. You may also be eligible for Medicare and/or Medicaid during this provisional benefit period.
After I am Approved for SS Disability, when will I Receive Benefits?
Once you are approved for disability, when you start receiving your benefit payment depends on which program you were approved for (SSDI or SSI). If you are approved for SSI, you will begin receiving your benefit payments right away. If you are approved for SSDI, there is a five-month waiting period between your effective date (which is stated in your approval letter) and when you begin receiving payments. For example, if you get an approval letter that sets a disability effective date of March 15, your first payment will be for the month of September. But you'll actually get that payment in October, since payments are made each month for the previous month.
What is Continuing Disability Review?
All Social Security Disability benefits recipients are occasionally subjected to a Continuing Disability Review (CDR). The purpose of the CDR is to determine whether the medical condition that qualified you for Social Security Disability benefits has improved. If the SSA determines during your CDR that your medical condition has improved enough so that you can work, your Social Security benefits will end. How often you get a CDR depends on your age and your condition. For adults, the law requires the SSA to perform a medical CDR at least once every 3 years. However, if the SSA expects your medical condition improve, you may be subject to a CDR sooner than three years. If you have a medical condition that is not expected to improve, you will still be subject to a CDR once every 7 years.
For a child, SSA conducts a CDR at least once every 3 years if they expected that the child’s medical condition may improve. However, a CDR may be initiated even if the SSA does not expect the child’s condition to improve. In addition, newborns who receive SSI due to a low-birth weight will have a CDR prior to age 1.
Furthermore, all children on SSI benefits will have a CDR 2 months prior to turning 18 years to determine if their current medical condition(s) meets the disability requirements as an adult, which will determine if they will continue to receive benefits beyond age 18.
My doctor says I’m disabled. Is that enough to get disability?
Unfortunately, even if your doctor says you are disabled, that does not mean the Social Security Administration (SSA) will automatically approve you for benefits. Nearly two-thirds of all applications for Social Security disability are rejected. There are several reasons why you could be denied disability by Social Security, even though your doctor says you are disabled. First, there is the chance that you are not disabled as defined by Social Security. Second, even if you meet the SSA’s definition for medical disability, they may still reject your application for disability benefits if you have not earned enough work credits to qualify for benefits. The number of work credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on the age at which you become disabled. Unless you are blind, if you are disabled at age 31 or older, you generally need at least 20 credits in the 10 years immediately before you became disabled. If you are a younger worker, may qualify with fewer credits.
Some people are surprised to be denied disability benefits, even with strong support/recommendation and proof from their doctor that they have a disability. However, it is important to note the Social Security Administration's decisions regarding disability benefits is a legal decision, not a medical one. While the information provided by your doctor is considered, the final decision is up to the Social Security Administration, and their decision is based on the law.
If you are unsure whether you will qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits, contact an attorney that handles disability cases for a consultation.
Can Social Security Disability be Garnished by Creditors?
Your Social Security disability benefits (SSDI or SSI) is exempt from creditors. That means that if you owe creditors and they get a garnishment order from a court, they cannot attach the order to your benefits or garnish your disability payments. There are however exceptions to this rule. The federal government can garnish your Social Security disability benefit to recover money owed for back taxes or default on student loans. Your SSDI payments are also subject to garnishment if you owe child support and alimony. However, your SSI benefit payments cannot be subject to garnishment of any kind (child support, student loan payments, alimony or unpaid taxes).
A federal law passed in 2011 requires banks to review accounts before garnishing money to see if Social Security funds (or benefits from certain other government sources) have been deposited directly into the account within two months prior to the garnishment order.
How long do you have to be disabled before I can apply for SS Disability?
If you have a disability which prevents you from being able to work full time, or even suspect that your disabling condition is likely to last more than a year, apply for Social Security Disability right away. That’s because there are delays between applying and actually receiving benefits. Here is the criteria the SSA uses to define disability:
Definition for Adults--
If you are an adult and want to file for Social Security Disability, your condition must meet the following criteria for you to be considered disabled:
- You cannot do work that you did before
- It is determined that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s)
- Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or result in death
Definition for Children--
- The child must have a physical or mental condition(s) that very seriously limits his or her activities
- The condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least 1 year or result in death
Another reason why you should apply right away is that If your condition improves, you can always withdraw your application. Furthermore, with SSDI benefits, you can only be paid up to one year before the date you initiate your application. Therefore even if a judge determines that you became disabled 3 years ago, you can only get paid, at most up to one year before you applied. Therefore the sooner you apply, the better.
What is the difference between SSI and SSDI?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two types of disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). While both programs are for disabled persons, their eligibility requirements and benefits differ.
SSDI pays monthly benefits to workers who are no longer able to work due to a significant illness or impairment that is expected to last at least a year or is expected to result in death within a year. The program is funded through payroll taxes and works like an insurance plan. Recipients are considered "insured" because they have worked for a certain number of years and have made contributions to the Social Security trust fund through FICA Social Security taxes.
In order to qualify, you need to have worked for a minimum amount of time depending on your age when you become disabled. How much in disability benefits you receive depends your earnings record, therefore the higher your salary was, the higher your monthly benefits will be. SSDI is payable to disabled or blind workers, as well as their children, surviving spouses, and adults who have been disabled since childhood.
SSI is a disability program for people with demonstrated financial need and a disability that prevents them from substantial gainful activity. The program provides monthly cash payments for people who are 65 or older, as well as blind or disabled people of any age, including children. SSI is funded by general fund taxes, such as personal income taxes and corporate taxes. The program is "means-tested", meaning your eligibility is strictly based on financial need.
To qualify for SSI, must have a qualifying disability and have little or no income and few resources. Your resources refer to the items you own. The value of your resources must be less than $2,000 if you’re single or less than $3,000 for married couples living together. This does not include the value of your home, if you live in it, or the value of your car. To get SSI, you must also apply for any other government benefits for which you may be eligible.
What if the deadline for my Disability Appeal has already passed?
If your Social Security Disability application has been denied and you missed the deadline filing an appeal, your only option is to file a new claim for Social Security Disability. However, if you have a good reason for missing the deadline, you may be able to make your case to have your appeal accepted for review. You should probably contact a disability attorney for help.
How long does it take for you to start collecting SS Disability benefits?
The answer depends on what happens with your initial application. It takes about 3 to 5 months to get a decision regarding your initial application. It’s important to note that two thirds of all initial applications are rejected. If your application is rejected, you can appeal the decision. If you have to go through an appeal, the entire process can take anywhere from 18 to 36 months depending on how many stages of appeal you have to go through. However, there is a fast track process for people with certain disabilities. These are the Quick Disability Determinations (QDD) and Compassionate Allowances (CAL). Contact the Social Security Administration if you believe your illness or impairment may qualify for the fast track process.