Extended Period of Eligibility

Massachusetts Attorneys Advising Individuals on Social Security Claims

While Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is meant to support people dealing with a disability that prevents them from working, a common goal for its recipients is to return to work if they become healthy enough to do so. This transition, however, may not be straightforward, and disabled individuals may engage in multiple unsuccessful attempts to return to employment. In order to support such efforts, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides for both trial return to work periods and extended SSDI eligibility. At Kantrovitz & Associates, our Social Security lawyers can explain how these programs can potentially assist Massachusetts residents hoping to rejoin the workforce.

Returning to Work

When returning to work for the first time, many disability recipients are concerned that their initial employment will cause their benefits to end, and, if their disability later returns, they will be left without the support they need to get them through another period of unemployment. For this reason, the SSA has created the trial return to work period. This is a nine-month period in which a recipient can return to work without risking the loss of benefits. During the return to work period, recipients continue to receive their disability payments, even if they are also earning a paycheck. If they are ultimately unable to hold consistent employment, they may simply return to receiving only SSDI payments.

Extended SSDI Eligibility

If the disability recipient returns to work successfully, after the nine-month period has elapsed, he or she will enter a period known as the three-year extended period of eligibility. During this time, recipients can continue to receive SSDI benefits, even though they have returned to work, as long as their earnings from their new job are not more than the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) limit imposed by the SSA. This limit is currently $1,090 a month for 2015. If a recipient reaches the SGA threshold, he or she still has a three-month grace period to receive full SSDI benefits in addition to wages. After the three-month period, if monthly wages are higher than the SGA, the recipient will not receive any SSDI benefits for that month. However, at any time during the three-year extended period of eligibility, if your monthly earnings fall below the SGA level, you may request to have your SSDI benefits reinstated for that month.

Finally, after the three-year extended period of eligibility, if your monthly earnings fall below the SGA level, you will continue to be entitled to SSDI benefits. However, once your earnings surpass the SGA level, your SSDI benefits will end. You will not be able to request for them to be reinstated, but you will instead have to re-request benefits through expedited reinstatement.

Legal Guidance on Applying for Government Benefits in Massachusetts

For many disabled individuals, returning to work can be an overwhelming process. You may feel disoriented after having been out of the workforce for several years, or unsure of what to expect. In order to ease this transition, the SSA’s extended period of eligibility allows you continue to receive the SSDI benefits that you need for up to three years after returning to work. While eligibility may fluctuate depending on the earnings from your job, SSDI can act as a fall back to protect you in a time of need or if your disability returns. At Kantrovitz & Associates, our government benefits attorneys can help Massachusetts individuals with an initial claim for SSDI and the appeals process, such as filing a request for reconsideration. From our Boston offices, we assist applicants throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. You can contact us at (800) 367-0871 or online for more information.