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Can you still get SSDI benefits if you try to return to work?

| Apr 30, 2021 | Social Security Disability

People who qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits typically have serious medical conditions. To get approval for SSDI, you need medical documentation of a condition severe enough that it prevents you from working and might even affect your ability to live independently. Generally, only those unable to pursue gainful employment because of severe conditions can qualify.

Your experience with your medical condition will change over time. No matter how severe a condition is, unless it is progressive or slowly gets worse, many people can eventually adjust to the physical differences in their daily lives or the effects of cognitive or mental health issues. Some medical conditions can occasionally go into brief periods of remission in which a person has fewer or less severe symptoms, although the condition might eventually worsen again.

Those experiencing a temporary reprieve in symptoms or who have adjusted to life with their medical condition may want to seek interactions and purpose outside of the home and earn some income. If you go back to work, will you lose your SSDI benefits? 

You have an obligation to report your return to work

If your medical circumstances change and work is possible despite your condition, you need to update the Social Security Administration (SSA) on changes to your situation. You should also report any expenses that you incur to support your return to work.

In situations where you can work part-time or work a job with different responsibilities, you may be able to rejoin the workforce and still retain partial SSDI benefits. If you are able to go back to the job you previously enjoyed, the SSA may determine that your disability ceased. This typically occurs without penalty to you, but it will mean the loss of your benefits.

What if your return to work is temporary?

Some people overestimate how much they can tolerate in their excitement about decreased or better-managed symptoms. If it turns out that you cannot tolerate working or if your condition worsens again, you may need to reapply for SSDI benefits or report the change in your ability and income so that previously reduced benefits can increase to a more appropriate amount again.

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