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Yes, You Can Work and Keep Disability Benefits

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I want to work but I’m afraid of losing my disability benefits and medical coverage! 

This is a common concern, but read on to see how these fears may be unjustified.

Individuals with disabilities who receive SSI and/or SSDI benefits have usually worked hard and waited a long time to get those benefits. The Medicaid and/or Medicare coverage that accompanies these benefits is often more important than the benefit payments themselves. There are a lot of myths floating around about how much work an individual can do before they lose their benefits. A common one is you can only work 20 hours a week or you will lose your benefits. Like most other street knowledge, this is incorrect.

How do I know how much I can work? 

Talk to a Community Work Incentives Coordinator (CWIC), who is trained to understand and communicate the variety of incentives in the Social Security system which are designed to encourage work while retaining all or most of your benefits. A CWIC can also help you avoid many of the resource limitations if you receive SSI and Medicaid.

How do the work incentives help me? 

If you receive SSDI, you have Medicare (after a two-year waiting period). Your SSDI benefits will only stop if you have consistent earnings of more than $1180 a month for an extended period. Even then, your SSDI benefits will continue to be paid for at least 12 months no matter how much you earn. After that, Social Security may decide your earnings are Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) and stop your SSDI benefits. But you can still easily get them back if your earnings fall below SGA. Even if your SSDI benefits stop because of earnings, you will keep your Medicare for at almost 8 years. After that, you can buy Medicare if you need it.

If you receive SSI, you automatically have Medicaid. Your SSI benefits are reduced by less than one-half your earnings, so you will always have more money when you work and receive SSI. For example, if you earn $1585 a month, your SSI benefits will be reduced to zero, so you are exchanging $1585 in earnings for $750 in lost SSI benefits, a gain of $835. And if your SSI benefits stop because of earnings, you will keep your Medicaid until you earn over $30,600 a year and perhaps more, depending on your state’s Working Disabled and/or Medicaid Buy-In programs.

Disability benefits are just another form of money! 

Think in terms of maximizing your cash each month, realizing you can keep your medical coverage and have much more money to spend if you work.

Learn more at Picasso Einstein.

Originally published: May 13, 2018
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