New Jersey residents might be under the misconception that simply getting Social Security disability benefits means that they should not even try to get back to work for fear of no longer being eligible for benefits. However, if a person meets the federal requirements to be approved for SSD benefits, they can also try to see if they are capable of working while still being able to maintain or restart their benefits if they fail. Understanding the rules for working while disabled includes understanding what incentives the Social Security Administration offers for those who are receiving SSD benefits but want to try to work.

The SSA offers several benefits for SSD recipients who try to work. With the trial work period, the person has nine months to try to work. In that timeframe, the person will get their full SSD benefits no matter how much he or she earns working, as long as he or she reports the work to the SSA and is still disabled. For 2018, the trial work month is a month in which the person earns more than $850. For a self-employed person, working more than 80 hours a week and earning more than $850 after expenses constitutes a trial work month. The nine months are to be used within a 60-month period. For extended period of eligibility, the person can work for 36 months and get benefits in a month where there are not substantial earnings. For 2018, “substantial” is considered earnings beyond $1,180.

Expedited reinstatement means that if the benefits end because of surpassing the substantial earnings threshold, there will be five years to request that the benefits restart because the person cannot work due to their medical condition. No new application for SSD benefits is needed, nor will the person need to wait. Finally, if there are work expenses due to the disability, they can be deducted from the calculation of monthly earnings.

Not all illnesses, injuries or conditions mean there is an inability to work, even if the worker is approved for SSD benefits. There are work incentives that allow the person to try to get back into the workforce without fear of losing their benefits completely or needing to go through a reapplication process to get them again. Having legal advice can be useful when deciding whether to get back to work and how to go about it.