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Is There A Two Year Waiting Period On Starting To Work After Your Disability Onset?

I have a few questions self employment that I had help setting up and running that lost money. (I haven’t had any other employment since my disability award.)

For background, the business is running Facebook and Instagram ads for other businesses that pay us on a monthly retainer.

We (my friends/family that helped me set it up) hired one freelancer to be in charge of getting clients. Once she gets a new client it is sent to another freelancer that runs all the ads.

My involvement is just seeing if I get any notifications with issues from the freelancers that I would direct to someone else (they didn’t have problems.) All of the freelancers got paid through their platforms (like Upwork) on autopay so there was’t much to do there. I had help from my boyfriend and my niece with things like buying a new laptop, running any errands, etc. I really only work 1 hour a month when we have a client (and zero when we don’t have any.)

This would seem like a great business for me to have. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough clients at a time to make a profit. With the fixed overhead, and one or zero clients paying a retainer each month, it lost money. We kept at it for a bit thinking if we could get 5 or even 10 clients at a time, I would earn money I’d be happy with. I’ve since stopped the business.

Anyway, my first question is I’ve read some things about there being a two year waiting period. What does this refer to/is it true? We started the business more than two years after the onset of my disability but less than two years after my award determination. Are there any consequences to this?

My second question is, how should I have been reporting the losses? The very first month, I thought I had made a profit of like $200 and called SSA. The person I talked to said it was under the amount and it didn’t really matter. I said I wanted to make sure there weren’t any problems and asked if I should submit something online or if there was a form going forward. I didn’t really get any guidance and once I realized we were losing money, I didn’t call in anything further. I never received an inquiry into what I did report. Should I have been reporting losses? What should I do now? When I look at the forms for CDR, I will have to answer about being self employed in the past, so I want to fix any problems.

Thank you so much for your time and knowledge!

Hi. No. The only 2 year waiting period that I can think of is with regard to Medicare eligibility for disability beneficiaries. Medicare eligibility begins with the 25th month of a person's entitlement date to Social Security disability benefits.

It can be a problem if a person returns to substantially gainful (SGA) work within 1 year of their disability onset. The Social Security regulations require a person to be unable to do SGA for at least a year in order to qualify for disability benefits. So, if a person starts performing SGA within a year of their disability onset, their claim can be disallowed regardless of the severity of their disabling impairment.

However, the work activity you describe doesn't come anywhere close to being SGA, nor would it even count toward your trial work period (TWP). In order for self-employment to count as a trial work month in 2023, for example, you must either need to have net earnings of more than $1,050, or you must devote more than 80 hours to your work activity.

Furthermore, the fact that you had a loss as opposed to a profit wouldn't make any difference with regard to your benefit rate. I suppose you would want to report your losses on your tax return(s), but my expertise doesn't extend to income tax regulations.

It's always good to tell Social Security about any work activity you perform while collecting disability benefits, but if your work activity was limited to the amount you describe and if you didn't have any months with a net profit, then I can't imagine that it would make any difference whether or not you follow up with Social Security. If you want to be extra careful about following the letter of the law, though, you could complete and submit a form SSA-820 ( to Social Security.

Best, Jerry

Apr 14 2023 - 7:54pm
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