Monday, August 18, 2008

Disability Benefits & Work

Many people are under the misimpression that they cannot receive Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits during a period of time when they worked. I have a client whose application for SSD benefits was approved today, which included a fourteen month period of time during which he earned around $35,000 from four employers. There were different reasons why he remained eligible for SSD benefits.

One of the four employers was actually my client’s relative, who required little if any work from my client. I convinced the SSA that no money was received from earned income, and even if that were not the case, the income would have resulted from a sheltered work environment with little actual value.

The claimant worked for two of the employers for less than three months, which constituted unsuccessful work attempts, which do not conflict with the right to receive SSD payments. While the claimant worked for the last employer for a little over three months, the SSA was persuaded that the claimant was forced to stop working because his impairments resulted in substandard work, and thus also qualified as an unsuccessful work attempt.

When applying for SSD benefits the onset date of a disability does not necessarily equate with the last date that a person worked. There are many work situations, such as those mentioned above, where the last date worked and onset date should differ. It is essential to consider these vocational issues when filing an SSD application in order to avoid forfeiting benefits.

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