May 26, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Ask Rusty – SSDI and the Ticket to Work Program

Dear Rusty: I am 60 and currently getting Social Security Disability, but I would like to return to work as much as possible. I am concerned with how my earned income would affect my Social Security at age 65 (or even at age 70).  I understand that Social Security has a “trial work” program that allows me to keep receiving disability for a while, to allow me to test my physical limits. I wish to make sure that my Social Security Disability does NOT automatically convert to the standard (early) benefit at age 62 (Ouch!). I read something about a 96 month period that is crucial. So many factors involved, so I wish to make the right decision.
Signed,
Wanting to Work While Disabled.
Dear Wanting:  Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, provides eligible disabled workers with a financial lifeline in return for the insurance premiums they’ve paid into the program during their working years.  Although the criteria are stringent, once awarded the benefit provides income to partially replace earnings that are lost due to a long term disability.  Social Security encourages those receiving SSDI benefits to eventually return to the workforce and offers a “Ticket to Work” program to help achieve that goal.  This program gives you the chance to test your ability to work for at least nine “trial work months” during a 60 month period, and during this trial work period you’ll receive your full SSDI benefit regardless of how much you earn.  Briefly, any month you earn more than $840 (for 2017) counts as a trial work month.  After you have reached nine trial work months, you can still receive your SSDI benefits for another 36 months, except that you won’t receive benefits for any month that your earnings exceed what Social Security considers “substantial”, which for 2017 is $1,170 (note that these dollar amounts can change annually).  If your benefits stop because your earnings regularly exceed “substantial”, and within 5 years you are again unable to work due to your disability, your disability benefits can be restarted (without having to re-apply). You can get full details about the Ticket to Work program by going to https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10095.pdf, but this program should allow you to work and test your physical limits without a negative impact to your Social Security benefits.
To address a few of your other concerns:  Your earnings from attempting to return to work while disabled shouldn’t negatively affect your future Social Security retirement benefit at your full retirement age. Your disability benefits will not automatically convert to early retirement benefits at age 62, but they will automatically convert to retirement benefits when you reach your full retirement age (which is 66 years plus 6 months if you were born in 1957).  However when they convert, your benefit amount will remain the same as you were receiving in disability benefits.  If you are on Medicare and your benefits stop as a result of exceeding the substantial earnings limit, as long as you are still disabled your free Medicare Part A coverage will continue for at least 93 months after the 9 month trial work period.  However, you will still have to pay a Medicare Part B premium in order to receive Part B coverage.
Related Posts

SM.a.r.t. Column: A Path Forward for Santa Monica: Part II

May 19, 2024

May 19, 2024

As referenced in Part I of this article, the state’s use of faulty statistics and forceful legislation has left a...

SM.a.r.t. Column: A Path Forward for Santa Monica: Part I

May 12, 2024

May 12, 2024

To quickly summarize, California grapples with an ongoing housing crisis spurred by state implementation of over 100 policies and mandates...

SM.a.r.t. Column: Where Will Our Huddled Masses Sleep? Navigating California’s Affordable Housing Mandates

May 5, 2024

May 5, 2024

Just as Lady Liberty beckons the “huddled masses” of immigrants to America, cities like Santa Monica have an ethical obligation...

SM.a.r.t Column: SMCLC SPEAKS

April 28, 2024

April 28, 2024

SMart (Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow) periodically invites guest columnists who have made a significant contribution to the...

SM.a.r.t Column: Building Modern Boxes Lacks Identity

April 21, 2024

April 21, 2024

In the relentless pursuit of modernity, cities worldwide have witnessed the rise of so-called architectural marvels in the form of...

SM.a.r.t. Column: Santa Monica Needs Responsible Urban and Architectural Design

April 14, 2024

April 14, 2024

[SMa.r.t. note: Eight years ago, our highly esteemed and recently-passed colleague Ron Goldman documented his thoughts on the need for...

SM.a.r.t. Column: BLINK NOW!

April 7, 2024

April 7, 2024

Nine years ago, I wrote a column for SMa.r.t. titled SANTA MONICA: BEACH TOWN OR ‘DINGBAT’ CITY? (https://smdp.com/2015/05/09/santa-monica-beach-town-dingbat-city/)Here is the...

SM.a.r.t Column: ARB Courage (Part 2 of 2)

March 31, 2024

March 31, 2024

Last week we discussed the numerous flaws of the Gelson’s project as a perfect example of what not to do...

ARB Courage (Part 1 of 2)

March 24, 2024

March 24, 2024

On March 4, 2024, your ARB (Architectural Review Board) ruled in favor of the 521-unit Gelson’s Project at Ocean Park...

SM.a.r.t Column: Can California ARBs Balance Affordable Housing with Community Character in the Face of New Housing Laws?

March 17, 2024

March 17, 2024

By suggestion, I attended the March 4th ARB (Architectural Review Board) meeting that addressed the Gelson Lincoln Boulevard Project.  After...

S.M.a.r.t Column: On the Need for Safety

March 10, 2024

March 10, 2024

Earlier this week, in the dark pre-dawn hours, a pair of thugs covered in masks and hoodies burst into the...

Film Review: The Oscar Landscape 2024

March 7, 2024

March 7, 2024

FILM REVIEWTHE OSCAR LANDSCAPE 2024A Look at the Choices – Academy Awards – March 10, 2024, at 5:00 p.m. on...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Five Saving Historic Santa Monica

March 3, 2024

March 3, 2024

Our beloved City is surrounded by many threats, from sea level rise to homelessness, to housing affordability, to cancerous overdevelopment,...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Gelson’s Looms Large

February 22, 2024

February 22, 2024

Our guest column this week is by SMCLC (the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City). SMCLC is a well-established...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Top Toady Town

February 18, 2024

February 18, 2024

Throughout history, from the ancient Romans and Assyrians to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, siege warfare has served as an...