Working and Receiving Social Security Disability
At no point does Social Security require a person to completely stop working to be eligible for disability benefits. The rule to apply for benefits is: you must make less than $1,470 gross per month in 2023 because of a disabling condition. The monthly income limit changes once you are approved for Social Security Disability. It is very important to be open and honest with Social Security about your work status. If you are not honest with Social Security, you could lose your benefits and owe thousands in overpayments back to Social Security.
Trial Work Period
You can receive your Social Security disability benefits (SSDI and SSI) and continue to work as long as you make less than $1,050 per month in 2023 – amount changes every year. If you go over the monthly limit, you will enter the Trial Work Period. This allows you to work with no income limit for nine months and no impact on your disability benefits. Be aware that you only get ONE Trial Work Period for the entire life of your disability claim. This is true even if you are on Social Security disability for 20 years. The Trial Work Period operates on a rolling 60-month (5-year) basis. For example, if you work seven months in 2023, then work seven months in 2029 then your Trial Work Period will show 7 months on your record. The months from 2023 will not show on your record because they happened more than 5 years in the past. If you do not use more than your nine months of the Trial Work Period it will continue indefinitely.
Extended Period of Eligibility
If you use up your Trial Work Period and are able to keep working, you will enter the Extended Period of Eligibility. This time period lasts up to 3 years as long as you earn less than substantial gainful activity ($1,470 per month gross in 2023). If you make over the yearly amount your benefits will stop. Additionally, your benefits will stop if you use up the 3-year period and continue to work.
If you stop receiving Social Security disability because you return to work, you can request your benefits start again WITHOUT having to complete a new application. This is called expedited reinstatement. You can get provisional benefits for up to 6 months while Social Security reviews your claim, but you have to request expedited reinstatement within 5 years of when your disability benefits stopped.
Ticket to Work
Social Security operates a wonderful program for anyone aged 18-64 receiving Social Security disability benefits (SSDI or SSI) who wants to continue working: Ticket to Work. This program supports career development and financial independence. It provides support to help people with disabilities succeed in the workforce. This is a perfect place to start for anyone who wants to continue working but is overwhelmed of how to manage the process.