Social Security insurance disability benefits provide monthly income for individuals who are considered disabled and therefore unable to work due to an injury or illness. In some cases, workers who suffered a debilitating injury or medical condition may eventually attempt to return to the workforce. However, these individuals often have concerns about whether or not they are physically or mentally capable of doing so. Many also fear that their SSDI benefits will automatically stop once they return to work.
The Social Security Administration allows an individual to work and maintain SSDI eligibility provided his or her monthly income does not exceed $1,070 per month. In cases where an individual's monthly income exceeds this amount, the SSA offers a nine-month trial work period.
A trial work period allows an individual to earn more than $770 per month and still receive SSDI benefits for a total of nine months. The trial work period is a critical time for individuals who are receiving SSDI benefits to test their ability to work and determine whether they are able to return to the workforce. Once the nine-month trial work period lapses, for a total of 36 months, an individual will still receive their SSDI monthly benefit amount for any month during which time his or her wages don't exceed $1,070.
Even in cases where an individual has been working and earning more than $1,070 per month for more than 36 months, at any time during a five-year timeframe, his or her SSDI benefits can be reinstated. This point is critical for workers who suffer a re-injury or relapse and must stop working or cut back on work hours.
Source: Social Security Administration, "Working While Disabled—How We Can Help," 2014