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What are some work incentives for the disabled?

When you're receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you can still work. In fact, there are incentives to doing so, just as there are some instances where working can result in the SSA reducing your benefits.

When might the SSA reduce your benefits?

When you work, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has the right to exclude impairment-related expenses from your benefits when you perform substantial work. For instance, if you have a wheelchair, then the SSA may deduct the cost of that expense from your earnings. That same expense is taken out of your Supplemental Security Income. The SSA also deducts the value of subsidies from your disability benefits, but it does not deduct them from the SSI payment amount.

When does the SSA's work incentive help me?

If you attempt to go back to work but are unable to do substantial work over the course of six or more months, then the earnings you had will not be taken into consideration when the SSA determines your SSI.

If you are in a vocational rehabilitation program and are found to be recovered, you can still receive Social Security Disability Income and Supplemental Security Income payments until you complete the program. This is a program that helps you become self-supporting again, so the SSA does not automatically stop payments because you are no longer meeting the definition of disabled.

SSD and SSI are both complicated, and the SSA can have hard-to-follow rules and regulations. Your attorney has more information on the benefits you receive and how they'll be affected if you attempt to work.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Work Incentives - Detailed Information," accessed March 14, 2017

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