Q: I think I might be able to go back to work soon, but I'm nervous. Will I lose all of my disability benefits right away?
No, you won't lose all of your disability benefits right away. The Social Security Administration does a good job helping people slowly ease in to going back to work following a long-term disability. There is a trial work period in which you're able to test your abilities for at least nine months. During that time, you are able to receive your full Social Security disability benefits, regardless of how much you are earning. You must just be vigilant about reporting your work activity.
For 2013, a trial work month is considered to be any month in which you make over $750, or, if you are self-employed, you make more than $750 after expenses or work more than 80 hours. The nine trial work months don't have to be consecutive, either. You just have to complete them with a 60-month (5 year) period. Once those nine months are completed, you have 36 more months (3 years) during which you can still receive disability benefits for any month that your earnings are not what the SSA considers "substantial." They consider earnings over $1,040 to be substantial ($1,740 if you are blind).
After your earnings have been substantial for 36 months, you still have 5 years during which you can ask the SSA to start your benefits immediately again if you find yourself completely unable to work again. There's no new disability application involved, and you don't have to wait for benefits.
If you need help with your Social Security disability benefits, you need to speak with an experienced Social Security attorney; Harrisburg is home to the law firm of Schmidt Kramer, and you can call today for a free consultation at 888-476-0807.