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Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI Incentives)

The SSDI program offers many incentives to help blind and disabled people go to work. Here are some of the ways they may help you:

Items and services you need to work

Maybe you can’t work without certain items or services, and you pay for them yourself. The Social Security Administration (SSA) refers to these costs as Impairment-Related Work Expenses, or IRWEs. Examples include attendant care, job coaching, special transportation or vehicle modifications, durable medical equipment such as a wheelchair, and home modifications such as ramps and railings.

If SSA determines you’re eligible for cash benefits they can exclude the money you pay for allowable IRWEs from your countable earnings.

On-the-job support

Some disabled workers need extra support to succeed. For example, you may have a job coach or mentor who helps you do some of your work. This on-the-job support is called a Subsidy and its value is not included as part of your countable earnings.

Eligibility reviews

If you start working after receiving SSDI for at least two years, this won’t trigger an unscheduled review of your eligibility for benefits. However, a medical review may still be scheduled.

Trial Work Period

A Trial Work Period, or TWP lets you try working for a total of nine months and get your full SSDI benefit check no matter how high your earnings are. You don’t have to use the nine months all at once and can even have big gaps between your months of trial work, stretching them out over many years.

Extended Period of Eligibility

After the Trial Work Period ends, an Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE) allows you to receive your full monthly SSDI check for three years if your earnings are under a certain amount. (Note: It’s important to report to SSA any change in your earnings, especially if you start to earn more. Otherwise, you might have to repay money to SSA.)

Reinstatement of benefits

After the three-year Extended Period of Eligibility ends you have five years to ask for your benefits to start again in the event your disability gets worse. Your application will be reviewed quickly through SSA’s Expedited Reinstatement process. You can get up to six months of payments while SSA determines whether you are eligible, and if it turns out you’re not, you can keep the payments that were sent to you.