One of the most asked questions by clients during representation is whether they can work: Can I apply even though I am still working? I was offered and job and I’m not sure if I can do it, should I try? I’ve been disabled for two years, but I think I am ready to go back to work; should I try?
The best answer is, very often, “yes”.
I say “very often” because each case is different and you must explore the facts of your case carefully with a person knowledgeable about the laws, presumably an attorney. But, the general concepts follow.
First, Social Security is a program for people who cannot work. If you can work, you should work. There are many reasons to work and almost always, if you are able to work, you will be happier, healthier, have more money, have more self-esteem, etc.; the list is endless as to the benefits of work.
Second, Judges (assuming you have to go to a hearing) appreciate people who try. They appreciate people who have worked hard, they appreciate people who try to keep working, they appreciate people who try to return to work. Anyone of these situations go a long way to convincing a Judge that when you say you can’t work, you are sincere.
Third, there are several concepts for people who are working still, try to work, or return to work. The first is Substantial Gainful Activity. If you work is not “substantial”– you are working very few hours, with little pay, or under special circumstances, such work may not even be included for the purposes of determining if you are disabled. The second concept is unsuccessful work attempts. If you attempt to work and must stop due to your condition within certain specified periods of time (there’s a 3 month rule and a 6 month rule), that work may not be counted. The third concept is closed-end period of disability. If your condition improves and you are able to work, so long as your condition lasted 12 months or more, you can be paid for the period of disability, even though you have returned to work. Fourth is Trial Work Periods. Social Security allows you to test your ability to return to work, after a period of disability, without instantly discontinuing your benefits or your disability determination.
So, the simple answer is work is a good thing in Social Security. And, if you cannot do substantial work, that is why there is a Social Security Disability program and a Supplemental Security Income program.
More questions? The answers are a call away.