How does work affect my check benefits?
First, you should know that if you go back to work, you will NOT automatically lose your
disability benefits. The Ticket to Work and special rules called "work incentives" allow
you to keep your cash benefits and Medicare or Medicaid while you test your ability to
work. For the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, there is a trial work
period during which you can receive full benefits regardless of how much you earn, as long
as you report your work activity and continue to have a disabling impairment.
The trial work period continues until you accumulate nine months (not necessarily
consecutive) in which you perform what we call "services" within a rolling 60-month
period. We consider your work to be "services" if you earn more than $720 a month in
2010. For 2009, this amount was $700. After the trial work period ends, your benefits
will stop for the months your earnings are at a level we consider "substantial" -
currently $1,000 in 2009. For 2009, this amount was $980. Different amounts apply to
people who are disabled because of blindness. The monthly SGA amount for statutorily
blind individuals for 2010 is $1,640.
For an additional 36 months after completing the trial work period, we can start your
benefits again if your earnings fall below the "substantial" level and you continue to
have a disabling impairment. For more information about work incentives, we recommend
that you read the pamphlet, Working While Disabled-How We Can Help (SSA Publication
If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) your work may affect the amount of your
check. However, we do not count the first $65.00 of earnings in a month plus one-half of
the remainder. This means we count less than one-half of your earnings when we figure your
SSI payment amount. You may still qualify for other work incentives, such as Ticket to
Work, and continue to receive Medicaid.
While participating in the Ticket to Work Program, you may be able to use a combination
of other work incentives to maximize your income until you begin to earn enough to
support yourself. Some of these work incentives include:
To find out specifically how your participation in the Ticket to Work Program could
affect your disability benefits, you may contact a Work Incentives Planning and
Assistance (WIPA) project in your state. You can find a list of the WIPA projects by
state using the Service Provider Directory.