NEPA Social Security Lawyer- Disability Return to Work Question

Date: March 20, 2012

Question: I am collecting Social Security Disability benefits. Can I still work? A.L., Duryea, Pa.

Answer:  There are special rules under the Social Security act that allow you to work and still receive your monthly Social Security disability payments. A “trial work period” lets you determine if you can work. The trial work period is allowed for at least nine months. During this trial work period, you will receive your full Social Security benefits regardless of how much you are earning as long as you report your work activity and you continue to have a disabling impairment. For 2012, a trial work month is any month in which your total earnings are over $720, or, if you are self-employed, you earn more than $720 (after expenses) or work more than 80 hours in your own business. This trial work period continues until you have worked nine months within a 60-month period. After your trial work period, you then have 36 months during which you can work and still receive benefits for any month your earnings are not “substantial.” In 2012,Social Security considers earnings over $1,010/month ($1,690/month if you are blind) to be substantial.

Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive.  Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column. 


Tom Cummings
Thomas P. Cummings has been a Partner with Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP since 1996 and has been with the firm since 1991. He focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability and personal injury cases.