Disability attorney and client shaking hands

Return to Work Programs for Individuals Receiving Title II SSDI Benefits

People who receive Title II SSDI benefits could lose their eligibility for those benefits if they make more money than the Social Security Administration (SSA) rules for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) rules allow. For people who want to try to return to work, this situation could be a catch 22, particularly if they discover in their attempt that they are not physically able to work enough to support themselves.

There are return-to-work programs, like Ticket to Work, for individuals receiving Title II SSDI benefits who do not want to risk losing those benefits if they try to go back to work. A Texas disability attorney could explain your options and the program guidelines so that you do not risk losing your benefits.

Safety Nets

The SSA offers safety nets that allow people to continue receiving Title II SSDI benefits when they go back to work. People who worked long enough at jobs that paid into the Social Security system can be eligible for SSDI benefits if they have a severe disability that prevents them from working. If you qualify for SSDI, you automatically receive Medicare benefits. The SSA created four categories, also called “stages of work,” for the different phases of return-to-work programs.

Trial Work Period

In a trial work period, the SSDI recipient can receive their full monthly cash benefit no matter how much money they make if they report the work activity to the SSA and still qualify as being disabled. The trial work period can last for at least nine months, which does not have to be consecutive. The nine months can fall within a five-year time block. After working for a total of nine months within up to five years, the person might be ready to move to the next “Ticket to Work” stage.

Extended Period of Eligibility

When a person successfully completes the trial work period and makes more than the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level, their SSDI monthly cash benefits will stop. There will be a three-year extended period of eligibility that allows for automatic reinstatement of benefits for any month in which the individual makes less money than that year’s substantial gainful activity cut off. 

The person will not have to file a new application to receive benefits in those months. The SGA limit for statutorily blind individuals for 2022 is $2,260. For everyone else, the monthly SGA amount is $1,350.

Expedited Reinstatement

If you go back to work through the trial work period arrangement and then lose your job or start to make less money than the SGA, the SSA will offer you expedited reinstatement (EXR). Many people worry about how they would survive if they had to go through the long process they had to endure when they first applied for SSDI benefits. The expedited reinstatement process eliminates that concern. 

Initial Reinstatement Period

The initial reinstatement stage happens when a beneficiary receives benefits again after expedited reinstatement.

How Returning to Work Impacts Eligibility for Medicare

When going through the Ticket to Work and other return to work programs, the beneficiary still receives Medicare coverage. Even after the person is no longer eligible for the monthly cash benefit because of the amount of their earnings, their Medicare coverage continues for at least seven and three-quarter years after they complete their trial work period. 

Impairment-related Work Expense Incentives

Some people incur expenses to be able to work, because of their disability. The SSA will deduct those expenses from your earnings when calculating the amount of your income for purposes of the SGA limit. In other words, you might retain eligibility for SSDI benefits while working if you have disability-related expenses needed to support your employability.

Employment Services 

The SSA provides a wide range of services that can help people return to work. A few examples of these options are job training, vocational rehabilitation services, employment services, and subsidies for employers who hire people with disabilities. A Texas disability attorney can answer your questions about return-to-work programs for individuals receiving Title II SSDI benefits. Contact our office today, we offer a free consultation.