Ask Larry

Can I Suspend My SSDI Benefits And Reinstate Them If I Have To Stop Working?

Hello, I am a 36 never married woman and no children. I am on ssdi and was approved 6-7 years ago for mental issues. I would like to go back to work but I am only qualified for higher level jobs(which is how I won ssdi).
Instead of doing a trial work period, then sga, and then epe; I would like to suspend ssdi a few months after working.
I have read about ssdi suspensions that can be reinstated with medical back up( like incarcerations). I have also read about early retirement suspending. However, all of those examples are for way older people.

Can I suspend ssdi and let's say in a few years when I get fired or have to quit reinstate my ssdi? My old job I was making 3 grand a month starting out and due to my issues I can't work many starter jobs. Thank you.

Hi,

No, you can't voluntarily suspend Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits, nor could you opt to forego using a 9 month trial work period (TWP). If you return to work and assuming that you haven't previously worked since becoming entitled to SSDI benefits, the first 9 months that you work and earn more than that year's monthly TWP amount would count as your TWP. In 2021, the monthly TWP amount will be $940. TWP months don't have be consecutive to count toward your TWP. For example, you could work 3 months one year, 3 months the next year, and 3 months the year after that in order to complete a TWP.

Once you complete your TWP, if you're still working and earning more than the amount that Social Security considers as substantial gainful activity (SGA) then Social Security would likely determine that your period of disability has ceased. You can still be paid throughout your TWP and for the first 3 months of SGA level work following the TWP, but your benefits would be suspended thereafter for any months that you earn more than the monthly SGA limit. The SGA limit in 2021 will be $1,310.

If your SSDI benefits are suspended due to SGA, your benefits can be reinstated if your earnings drop below SGA level within your extended period of eligibility (EPE). A person's EPE starts with the month after the 9th month of their TWP, and continues for at least 36 months. However, the EPE can extend indefinitely as long as you don't earn above SGA level in any month later than 36 months after your TWP ended.

For example, say Amy is receiving SSDI benefits and returns to work in January 2021 earning $3,000 per month. Amy's TWP would be from January through September of 2021, and her period of disability would cease effective October 2021 assuming that Amy continues working at above SGA level. Amy would still be paid for the first 3 months after the TWP (i.e. October through December 2021), and her benefits would then be suspended effective with January 2022 if Amy is still earning above SGA at that time. Amy's EPE would run from October 2021 through at least September 2024, meaning that Amy could be paid for any non-SGA months during that time. Furthermore, if Amy's benefits are reinstated within her EPE and if she never earns above SGA level after September 2024, her EPE and payment of her SSDI benefits could continue indefinitely.

For more information on working while eligible for SSDI benefits, refer to the following Social Security pamphlet: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10095.pdf.

Best, Jerry

Posted: 
Dec 14 2020 - 4:13pm
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