A question many clients have been asking me lately after their hearings is whether they should return to work.
There are several reasons for this. One, is that the disability hearing itself really isn’t the end of the road. In most cases, it still takes 30-60 days for a judge to issue a decision, and it can take months after that to finally see your backpay and ongoing benefits.
In the event of a denial, even if the case looks good for a potential appeal, actually getting the decision overturned can take more than a year.
So, should you go back to work after a disability hearing?
Unfortunately, that’s really not a question for your lawyer to answer. It’s something each claimant has to consider for themselves, and particularly their physical and mental ability to do any work.
From a purely legal perspective, when and how you return to work can have varying impacts on your case.
If your case has gone to hearing, you have almost certainly been off work for more than a year, so if you are able to return to full-time work, you can pursue a closed period of disability.
Social Security also has rules in place for what’s called a trial work period if you are pursuing Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. As of 2022, if you earn more than $970 in a month for nine months within a five year period, you are still eligible to receive disability benefits. Even after that period of time, you can seek reinstatement of benefits if you are unable to continue working.
If you earn less than $970 a month, it has no impact on your ability to continue receiving benefits.
The rules change for Supplemental Security Income, however, Even if you are earning less than $970 each month, there is an offset that reduces your SSI benefits each month.
As you can see, the work rules can be tricky, and every claimant’s situation is a little different. While only you can decide whether you’re able to return to work, an experienced Social Security Disability attorney can at least discuss with you how these earnings can impact your disability benefits.