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Understanding the impact of life changes on disability benefits

Many disabled individuals receiving Social Security disability or SSD benefits who understandably rely on those benefits to take care of their daily needs and living expenses may have important questions related to their ability to return to work and what will happen to their benefits if they become eligible for full Social Security retirement benefits. These are important concerns, and disabled individuals receiving SSD benefits should understand the implications of life changes on benefits.

In general, requirements to qualify for SSD benefits includes a physical or mental medical condition that prevents the disabled individual from working and is expected to last 12 months or longer. The impact of reaching full retirement age on Social Security disability benefits is a switch from disability to retirement benefits. It may not be a significant change that the disabled individual receiving benefits notices, as their benefit amount will not change. The disabled individual will be considered a retiree, however, rather than a beneficiary of disability benefits, so they should be aware of that change.

When a disabled individual considers returning to work, they have the benefit of a trial period to determine if they are able to return to work. During this period of time, they do not lose their disability benefits. Their monthly disability benefits and health care coverage continues uninterrupted during the trial period while they determine if they are able to return to work. The trial period is in place as an incentive to help those disabled individuals who are able to return to work safely determine if they can without fear of losing benefits for trying or if they are ultimately unable to return to work.

Whether the disabled individual is out of the work force due to a disability that qualifies for Social Security disability benefits, is re-entering the workforce or attempting to re-enter the work force or is exiting the work force, it is important to be familiar with the potential impact of certain life situations and circumstances on their benefits. Social Security disability benefits are unquestionably important for many disabled individuals so it is worth their time to be knowledgeable concerning how to qualify and maintain benefits when needed.

Source: Pantagraph, "Social Security," May 22, 2017

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