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Can I still work while collecting disability benefits?

Suffering a disabling injury or illness can be devastating. Fortunately, many people recover -- at least partially -- from a particular condition. Advanced medical treatments and sophisticated medications can be more effective than ever, and it is possible to go back to normal daily activities even after a serious diagnosis.

For many people who are recovering, the prospect of returning to work can be a strong motivator. While Social Security disability benefits can provide critical financial support for individuals who are unable to work, there are many people in and around Atlanta who would prefer to go back to work. But the idea of losing much-needed benefits can be very scary.

Thankfully, the Social Security Administration has designed programs that allow disabled workers to get back to work without immediately losing their benefits.

Generally speaking, people who want to want to return to work after leaving due to a disabling condition don't simply return to a full-time job. They need to test the waters and their abilities to complete the work. The SSA has designed a system that supports a gradual return to work while still paying benefits.

In most cases, a worker will go through a trial work period and extended period of eligibility while still receiving SSDI benefits. The trial work period is a time when workers can test their capabilities. This stage lasts until a worker has earned at least $770 in a month for nine months over a 60-month period.

In the extended period of eligibility, a worker can continue to receive benefits for 36 months if monthly earnings are $1,070 or less.

This gradual reduction in benefits should be comforting to people who want to return to work but are unsure about what they will be able to do. However, there are strict requirements that must be met, and potential workers should be sure that they understand what they must report in order to continue to receive benefits.

As is the case with any Social Security program, returning to work while collecting SSDI can be complicated and overwhelming. Many people who attempt to navigate this system alone end up making costly and avoidable mistakes. Working with an attorney familiar with Social Security can be a great source of relief to those who want to protect their benefits and explore their options.

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