The Social Security Administration has a program to help disabled individuals return to work known as the Ticket to Work program. See https://www.ssa.gov/work/. This program applies to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
Step 1 of the Ticket to Work program is a Trial Work Period (TWP). During TWP the individual receives full SSDI benefits regardless of earnings.
TWP starts when gross earnings exceed $840/month. It continues until the individual accumulates 9 TWP service months (not necessarily consecutive) within a 60 month period. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will not conduct continuing disability reviews during TWP.
Further, Medicare coverage will continue for 93 months (7 years, 9 months) after the 9 month TWP.
Step 2 of the Ticket to Work program is the Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE). EPE begins after the Trial Work Period ends, and continues for 36 months.
During EPE the individual continues to receive SSDI for all months when gross monthly earnings are below substantial gainful activity (SGA) ($1,180/m for 2018). The 1st time the individual earns more than SGA, SSA will find that disability has ceased.
Step 3 of the Ticket to Work program is Expedited Reinstatement (EXR).
If SSDI is stopped due to work at substantial gainful activity level ($1,180/m for 2018), AND you must stop work due to the “same” medical impairment within “5 years” after SSDI stopped, then you can request Expedited Reinstatement.
Expedited Reinstatement allows you to receive up to 6 months of temporary payments while SSA conducts a medical review. If disability benefits are approved, then an initial reinstatement period (IRP) begins.
The initial reinstatement period ends after SSDI has been paid for 24 months. After the initial reinstatement period ends, you are entitled to
● a new Trial Work Period;
● a new Extended Period of Eligibility;
● a new Expedited Reinstatement; and
● a new period of extended Medicare coverage.
The Ticket to Work Program can be an excellent tool to help individuals with medical problems return to the work.