I noticed this question and answer at the Akron Beacon Journal Web site. The answer is dangerously incomplete because it doesn’t warn that a Trial Work Period is limited to nine months, and the nine months need not be consecutive. If a Social Security disability recipient exceeds the allowable Trial Work Period and is not notified promptly by the Social Security Administration, the recipient will be facing an overpayment situation.
Q: I am getting Social Security disability benefits. If I try to return to work, will that affect my checks? I read that people on Social Security could earn up to $12,480, but I don’t expect to make that much. F.M., Uniontown.
A: The $12,480 limit doesn’t apply to disability cases. The disability program uses special rules called “work incentives” that allow a person to keep their cash benefits and Medicare coverage while attempting to return to work. A disabled person returning to the workforce is protected by one work incentive called a “trial work period.” As long as the work activity is reported and the person continues to have a disabling condition, their full Social Security benefit will be paid regardless of how much they earn during the trial work period. After the trial work period ends, benefits will stop if the earnings are considered “substantial.” For Social Security purposes, substantial means earnings of $860 or more per month in 2006. For more information about work incentives, visit Social Security’s Web site at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ or call 800-772-1213 and ask for the publication, Working While Disabled: How We Can Help.