Determining Work Incentives

Working while receiving disability benefits

Special rules make it possible for people receiving Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to work and still receive monthly payments. If you cannot continue working because of your medical condition, your benefits can start again — you may not have to file a new application.

Work incentives include:

·         Continued cash benefits for a time while you work

·         Continued Medicare or Medicaid while you work

·         Help with education, training, and rehabilitation to start a new line of work

The rules are different under Social Security and SSI; see the information below to find out how your earnings will affect your benefits.

Social Security Benefits: SSDI, Childhood Disability Beneficiary, Disabled Widow(er) Beneficiary

During a 9-month trial work period, there are no limits on your earnings. During the following 36-month extended period of eligibility, you usually can make up to $1,090 a month (2015 figure) without your cash benefit being impacted ($1,820 in 2015 if meeting criteria for statutory blindness). But the work expenses you have as a result of your disability can be deducted when Social Security counts your earnings to see if they can help you keep more of your benefits. If you have extra work expenses, your earnings could be substantially higher than $1,090 before they affect your benefits. This earnings amount usually increases each year.

Social Security deducts work expenses related to your disability from your earnings before we determine if you are still eligible for benefits. These expenses may include the cost of any item or service you need to work, even if the item or service is also useful in daily living. Examples include prescription drugs, transportation to and from work, a personal attendant or job coach, a wheelchair or any specialized work equipment.

SSI Payments

The amount of your SSI payments is based on how much other income you have. When your other income goes up, your SSI payments usually go down. So when you earn more than the SSI limit, your payments will stop for those months. But, your payments will usually automatically start again for any month your income drops to less than the SSI limits. Just tell Social Security if your earnings are reduced or if you stop working.

If your only income besides SSI is the money you make from your job, then Social Security does not count the first $85 of your monthly earnings. We deduct from your SSI payments 50 cents of every dollar you earn after the $85 deduction.

You may be eligible for a Plan to Achieve Self-Support which allows you to use money and resources for a specific work goal. These funds do not count when we figure out how your current income and resources affect your benefit amount.

Medicaid coverage

In general, your Medicaid coverage will continue, even after your SSI payments stop, until your income reaches a certain level. That level varies with each year and reflects the cost of health care. However, if your health care costs are higher than this level, you can sometimes even have more income and keep your Medicaid.

Determining YOUR Work Incentives

Plan to Work can provide information and work incentives planning and assistance to people who are receiving Social Security or SSI disability benefits and who are working or considering work.

Our Community Work Incentive Coordinators can help you understand how work affects your payments and explain what other federal, state and local supports there are for people with disabilities who want to work.

Call Plan to Work at (866) 497-9443 for more information. Also, you can access the Plan to Work Intake Packet here.

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