I'm on Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Thinking of going back to Work: Part 2- Trial Work Period
OK, so you have made your decision to go back to work, now what? What do you do? What is your next step? The first thing you need to do is to decide if you want to work full time or part time. For this blog let’s say you are going to work part time.
Before I go any further, let me tell you that if you are on SSDI and you decide to go back to work, you need to inform the Social Security Administration of your intent to do so. You can call them or go to your local SSA office. This is a must. The law says you need to inform SSA if there is any change to your disability, going back to work is a change if you are collecting SSDI. My suggestion is to contact your local SSA office.
Now if you inform SSA that you intend to do limited work and you do not intend to make anywhere near $840 for 2017 which is the trigger to enter the Trial Work Period, the SSA worker may say to you as long as you are below the $840 for 2017 you do not need to inform them of anything. If you make $840 or more for 2017 you then need to send the SSA a copy of all your pay stubs. MAKE SURE YOU DO THAT BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO. More on this later!
Let’s say that you decided that you want to work part time. Well, you need to decide If you want to make enough to enter the Trial Work Period or not. What you ask? Trial Work Period, what is that? Let me explain.
The www.ssa.gov site says” Earnings trigger a trial work period. During a trial work period, a beneficiary receiving Social Security disability benefits may test his or her ability to work and still be considered disabled. We do not consider services performed during the trial work period as showing that the disability has ended until services have been performed in at least 9 months (not necessarily consecutive) in a rolling 60-month period. In 2017, any month in which earnings exceed $840 is considered a month of services for an individual's trial work period.
So the thing you need to know and understand about the Trial Work Period is you are not in it if you do not make at least $840 in 2017. If you decide that you want to work 10 hours per week or 40 hours per month and you get paid $10/hour, you will only make $400 for the month and you are well below the Trial Work Period trigger so for this month you will still be considered disabled. If you decide you want to work 10 hours per week or 40 hours per month and you get paid $21.10/hour you will make $844 for the month and that month will be considered a month in the Trial Work Period. Remember, ‘Earnings trigger a trial work period.
Now you have only 9 months to decide if you would like to go back to work if your earnings put you into the Trial Work Period. It is cumulative within a 60 months period. There are no do overs. During the Trial Work Period, you can make as much as you can and still collect all of your SSDI benefits. If you use up your 9 months and you continue to work, you will lose at least part of your benefits. (I will talk about that in a later blog).
Of course if you work full time and making more than $840/month in 2017 and you do so for 9 consecutive months, you will then not be considered disabled and you will lose your SSA benefits. If you still have a disabling condition, you can keep your Medicare for up to 8.5 years after returning to work.
In my opinion it is better to contact your local Social Security office as you will be assigned to a SSA worker there.
SSA will send you Forms to fill out to see where you are at. I highly suggest that you fill them in and get them back to them on time. Make sure you make copies of these forms and keep them in your records. Going back to work is a process after being on SSDI and you need to keep track of it all.
Let’s talk about reporting. I cannot stress to you enough how important it is to send copies of your paystubs on a monthly basis to the person assigned to you. Every month! When you do, make sure that you keep copies for yourself. My suggestion is to create a folder for yourself and every piece of communication you send to SSA you keep a copy for yourself. You may say why? That is a lot of work. Trust me, there may come a day when you need that information. Also and this is very important in my opinion anything you send to the SSA you either bring it personally to the local office and get a receipt from them that you gave it to them or if you mail your pay stubs, mail them registered return receipt mail. Keep any receipt your receive from SSA or the receipt from the Post Office that someone at SSA signed for your pay stubs that month and put them in that folder in case you need it for future correspondence.
The reporting is the law. You need to do it. Why is it important to keep copies of everything and get receipts for anything you send to SSA? Reason being is that SSA is a huge bureaucracy. They make mistakes. You do all this so you can present them with every document your sent to them, when you sent it and who signed for it. It has happened more than once that SSA says they never received a document from you. If you do not have a copy of it and a receipt of them signing for it, you never sent it. This is important if they say you were overpaid or you didn’t do something right etc. Keeping everything is to your benefit.
The beauty of the Trial Work Period is that if during the 9 months period you decide you cannot work your disability is simply too much, no harm, no foul. You simply tell SSA that you are stopping.
That is all for this week. Next week Ticket to Work
By: Anonymous Author