Income earned while appealing Social Security Disability Decision. Will this end my benefits?
4 attorney answers
I agree with my colleagues. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) most likely considered your 2012, 2013 and 2014 earnings in making a decision. Although you mention that you did not report your work while your appeal was pending, if you file tax returns, the Social Security Administration would have your earnings information. If you were awarded SSDI benefits, the earnings for those years were likely considered unsuccessful work attempts.
Any income your earn after you are awarded benefits will be evaluated based on Social Security's definition of a Trial Work Period. Anytime your earn more than a certain amount determined by Social Security, you will have used one of your 9 trial work months. You are entitled to 9 trial work months during a 36 month period. I suggest you read further about the Trial Work Period if you intend on attempting to work.
I do not believe you will lose your benefits as all work performed was under the limit for substantial gainful activity. Even though you were above SGA for a couple of months in 2014 this will likely be considered an unsuccessful work attempt.
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It appears there could be an overpayment issue that you'll need to get straightened out and SSA could start subtracting money from your monthly benefits to recoup the overpayment. You might be able to work out a repayment agreement with Social Security and if you do, make certain it is one that you will be able to live with. It is possible that some of this was deemed to be an unsuccessful work attempt, though I'd be somewhat concerned about the 2013 earnings. I'd be a bit surprised if SSA totally missed this, but almost anything is possible. Certainly you will want to seek representation if your benefits are terminated.
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Generally, no, you will not lose your benefits. First, I am not sure if this is DIB or SSI. Assuming your benefits are DIB, and since your case was awarded a full year after your last earnings, it is likely that the earnings were considered an unsuccessful work attempt and did not count against you. If your decision was issued by an administrative law judge, this was likely addressed in the decision. Depending on when the money was earned in 2013, I cannot say if your 2014 earnings were truly an unsuccessful work attempt, but that is what I would argue. If your benefits are SSI, the SSA should have already taken all of your earnings into consideration when calculating your past-due benefits and reduced them accordingly. Based on the information you provided, I do not see any cause for concern. However, before you return to work in the future, read up on "trial work period."
This answer is provided for educational and informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice.