Returning to Work

At Bailey & Galyen we understand that a disability determination isn’t necessarily a life sentence. Often times during the appeal process or even after an award things change and individuals may want to attempt to re-enter the work force.

At social security you are eligible for benefits if your injuries or impairments have kept you from working for a period of 12 months or more. This is called the 12 month durational requirement. Social security defines working as performing sustained gainful activity. Sustained gainful activity is presumed if you are making more than $1,120.00 per month. However, there is an exception that allows a person to attempt to re-enter the work force without breaking the 12 month durational chain.

This exception is called the unsuccessful work attempt. Essentially if you are forced from your employment because of your impairments for a significant period of time, typically over 30 days, any subsequent employment can be classified as an unsuccessful work attempt if the work stops because of your impairments within 6 months. It is important to understand that in order for the work to to qualify as an unsuccessful work attempt the work must stop because of the impairments within 6 months.

Once the 12 month durational requirement is satisfied or after an award of disability has been granted, social security provides a second avenue for claimant to attempt to re-enter the work force.

This avenue is called the trial work period. A trial work period allows for a disabled individual to attempt to re-enter the work force and earn over SGA amounts for a period of 9 months. During this trial period a claimant previously awarded SSDI benefits will continue to receive benefits. If a claimant’s appeal is pending then the work will not interfere with a potential finding of disability for that time period. If you are unable to continue your employment within the 9 month period then you will simply continue receiving benefits as you were prior to commencing the trial work period.

If the work extends past the nine month trial period then you can still pursue what is called a closed Period of disability benefits.

A closed period of disability means we will only pursue benefits for the time you were unable to work due to your impairments. Its is called a closed period of disability because it has a definitive beginning and ending date and you are not pursuing continuing benefits. A closed period of disability benefits applies if you were out of work for at least 12 months due to an impairment but successfully returned to work at a later date.