These days, more and more people strive to keep working after a disability. In some cases, it is not possible, but in other cases, it is very much a possibility with today’s advances in technology, healthcare and changes to laws. These days, you may no longer have to choose between work and benefits. It can be an option to have both until you are able to work full-time, if that is a reality for your unique circumstance.

Work Incentives and Programs

The Social Security Agency (SSA) has made it possible for those receiving SSDI or SSI to still be able to work through work incentive programs and the “Ticket to Work” program while maintaining benefits. Both the SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) programs have different qualifying rules to be able to work and receive benefits. Under the SSDI program, you can work for a trial period to determine whether or not working is a good fit in conjunction with your disability.

This trial also provides you with time to find the right job for your new conditions and working potential. The SSI program allows you to work for any period of time as long as you do not exceed the pre-established earnings limit. The work incentives and programs continue to grow as the federal government learns more about one’s abilities regardless of a disability diagnosis.

The EXR (“Expedited Reinstatement”) provision allows qualifying benefit recipients to receive cash benefits on a temporary basis for up to six months while a medical review is implemented. If you lose your benefits due to earning a higher income, your benefits can resume at any given time if you are no longer able to work due to your physical or mental restrictions. In some cases, you will not have to reapply, but rather implement the expedited reinstatement policy if it is within five years of when you stopped receiving benefits.

Ticket to Work Program

In 1999, the Ticket to Work and Work Incentive Improvement Act was established to offer benefits and work to individuals utilizing SSI and SSDI. The Ticket to Work program, which is available in every state, features a variety of free services to help people find employment, including working with an employment service provider within the employment network that is approved by the SSA. It is also possible to work with a state vocational rehabilitation agency.

The services offered by the employment network are many, such as working with you to establish work milestones and goals as well as a plan to make them possible. Generally, these services include helping a recipient in finding the right job, a career and financial freedom. You will not have to pay anything for these services. And under this program, you will typically not have to go through continuing disability reviews. Those who qualify for the Ticket to Work program will be able to receive free employment counseling through the Work Incentive Planning and Assistance project.


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Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security

Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) is a program that allows various organizations in states and territories to provide guidance to recipients who wish to find employment in a number of ways. You will learn your rights as an employee and what is considered to be a reasonable accommodation. They will offer assistance with any complaints toward a state vocational rehabilitation agency or the employment network.

The program also helps with establishing and meeting financial goals to be able to pay for expenses. They will help with excluding other financial resources that are ineligible to be counted toward your benefits as well as to exclude the money you dedicate to reaching career goals. This can be a complicated process so it is best to utilize the expertise of an advocate to help start the PABSS program while utilizing disability benefits.

Work Expenses and Unincurred Business Expenses

It is also important to understand work expenses and unincurred business expenses to ensure that your SSI and SSDI benefits remain as strong as possible. These programs will often dismiss any reasonable expenses that are directly related to your disability from your earnings. The expenses simply have to be work expenses related to your impairment that allow you to be able to work, such as medications, assistive technology, co-pays, counseling, computer support services, customized tools, car modifications and more.

Keep in mind that you can only deduct such expenses as long as you do not receive reimbursement from someone else. These deductions are essential to lower your earned income when your SSI payment amounts are calculated. If you are blind, the expenses do not have to be exclusive to your blindness. Be sure to track all work-related expenses as they might be able to be deducted from your earnings regarding your SSI benefits.

And do not forget about unincurred business expenses. These expenses are for those who are self-employed. If a person provides you with business support without cost, this is an unincurred business expense. For example, a friend does some work for you that you do not pay for; or, as another example, a nonprofit provides you with a computer for free. Essentially, these services or items must be something the IRS considers to be a business expense if you had actually paid for the services or items yourself. It is important to keep track of these as they could be excluded from your earnings when determining your cash benefits.

Medicaid and Medicare

In many circumstances, even if you stop receiving SSI or SSDI after you return to the workforce, you may be able to continue receiving Medicare or Medicaid. You can request a benefit continuation as long as you meet various requirements, including that you remain classified as disabled and meet the resource and income requirements.

It is also possible to receive Medicaid once benefits stop, through a Medicaid Buy-In option.This allows individuals with disabilities who are earning an income too high to qualify for disability benefits to receive Medicaid. Each state will have income limits with some being higher than others. You may also still have to verify that you are, in fact, disabled as per the certification of an approved medical professional.


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About Citizens Disability, LLC:

Since 2010, Citizens Disability has been America’s premier Social Security Disability institution. Our services include helping people in applying for SSDI benefits, managing the process through Reconsideration, and representing people in person at their Hearing, and if necessary, bringing their case to the Appeals Council. Our mission is to give a voice to the millions of Americans who are disabled and unable to work, helping them receive the Social Security Disability benefits to which they may be entitled. Learn more about us and disability benefits like SSDI & SSI or give us a call at (800) 492-3260.


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