Social Security disability benefits may be available if you are suffering from a medical condition that prevents you from working and earning enough to support yourself. The disability application process includes a screen by Social Security of your current employment status. The system does not require you to be jobless, but it does limit the amount of money you can earn in order to be eligible.
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You can begin the disability application process by calling Social Security's toll-free help line at 800-772-1213, or visiting your local Social Security office. You also can apply online at ssa.gov, where a link on Social Security's home page will bring you to the disability application. The application asks whether or not you are currently working, and if so, how much money you are earning.
Substantial Gainful Activity
Social Security limits disability applicants and beneficiaries to a substantial gainful activity amount of £650 in earned income each month from wages, before taxes. This amount is adjusted regularly.
Trial Work Periods
If you are approved, you may continue working if you earn less than the substantial gainful activity amount. If you are not working at all when you begin earning disability benefits, Social Security allows you to return to work. For a period of nine months, you will not lose your benefits no matter how much you earn. Each month in which you earn at least £468 counts toward the nine-month limit, and the complete trial work period can be spread over 60 months during which you can earn full disability. After the nine-month limit is reached and this trial work period ends, you will lose disability benefits if you continue earning above the substantial gainful activity amount.
At the end of the trial work period, you may continue to work. For a period of 36 months after the trial work period, you will earn full disability benefits in any month you earn less than £650 per month. This amount rises to £1,066 per month if you are legally blind. After this period, earning a greater amount will result in suspension of your benefits.
If you earn enough money to have your disability benefits stopped, there is a five-year period during which you can resume benefits if you find yourself unable to continue working. During this five-year period, you have the right to "expedited reinstatement," meaning you will not have to reapply for disability and subject your case to a medical review. The Medicare insurance to which you were entitled as a disability beneficiary continues for at least 93 months after the trial work period ends. You will still be eligible for Medicare Part A insurance, no matter your age.
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