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What Happens To Social Security Disability After The Extended Period Of Eligibility?


Social Security disability programs provide essential financial support for individuals who cannot work because of a disabling medical condition, but benefits are not intended to be indefinite in all cases. Many recipients will seek to rejoin the workforce, though there are understandable concerns about how going back to work could impact your status. The Social Security Administration (SSA) established the Ticket to Work program for just this reason: You can test the waters for employment through a Trial Work Period (TWP), during which you receive full disability benefits.

However, the TWP is limited and terminates once you earn a designated amount in income for 9 months within a rolling 60-month period. At that point, you enter the Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE) – another stage of the Ticket to Work program. A Maryland Social Security disability attorney can explain the details if your TWP just ended or you are in EPE, but some basics can tell you what to expect. 

Understanding EPE 

As you probably know after being approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, a key issue for eligibility is your Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) – the amount of money you can earn and still qualify for SSDI. This figure did not matter for your TWP, but SSA does consider the value in EPE. Some important points include:

  • Your EPE lasts 36 months, during which time SSA will assess your work and earnings according to SGA.
  • The SGA for 2022 is $1,350 or $2,260 for individuals who are blind.
  • During EPE, you will receive SSDI benefits for every month in which your earnings are below SGA.
  • Certain amounts are NOT considered when determining SGA, such as expenses and services that you need to be able to work.
  • The first month during EPE that you earn more than SGA, SSA will terminate your eligibility for SSDI. Your payments do not immediately cease, however, subject to the grace period.

The EPE Grace Period 

SSA regulations provide a cushion as you are exiting the EPE so, though you are no longer eligible, you can receive additional SSDI benefits. The grace period is the two months following the month in which you worked at SGA levels. Therefore, you will receive amounts for your termination month and the two months afterward. 

Expedited Reinstatement and TWP 

The final phase of the TWP is yet another cushion to ensure you have financial support when returning to employment, and it lasts 5 years. Though you will not receive benefits after EPE ends, you have the advantage of Expedited Reinstatement: If you do fall under SGA because of the same disabling condition that qualified you for SSDI, you do not need to submit a new application for benefits.

Call Now to Speak to a Maryland Social Security Disability Lawyer 

SSA’s Ticket to Work program is an effective stepping stone for going back to work while still having some financial security through SSDI benefits. To learn more about EPE and what happens next, please contact the Law Offices of Steinhardt, Siskind and Lieberman, LLC. We can schedule a no-cost consultation to advise you on the expedited reinstatement phase.

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