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I receive Title II benefits. What do I do when…?

An increase in your wages, due to a raise, an increase in work hours or an increase in minimum wage may put more money in your pocket. It will also increase your countable earnings, which are used as a measurement of SGA. In some cases, a wage increase can move you from working below under SGA to being viewed as working above SGA. 

If you think that a wage increase will move you near or over SGA, we recommend you speak with a Benefits Planner. A Benefits Planner can help you identify and develop available work incentives, when applicable, which may reduce your countable monthly earnings below SGA.

An increase in your wages, due to a raise, an increase in work hours or an increase in minimum wage may put more money in your pocket. It will also increase your countable earnings, which are used as a measurement of SGA. In some cases, a wage increase can move you from working below under SGA to being viewed as working above SGA. 

If you think that a wage increase will move you near or over SGA, we recommend you speak with a Benefits Planner. A Benefits Planner can help you identify and develop available work incentives, when applicable, which may reduce your countable monthly earnings below SGA.

Money that you did not earn from working will not affect your Title II benefits. 

You may receive other benefits, however, that are affected by unearned income. You may wish to speak with a Benefits Planner to understand how unearned income and resources might affect other benefits you receive.

Bonuses and commissions are considered earnings, if they are connected to your work effort. Social Security reviews all earnings to understand your work ability in relation to SGA. 

We recommend you let Social Security know which months of work the bonus is for. If you do not, Social Security may apply the entire bonus to the month you received it.  

Example

Cobalt receives a $600 bonus in November for work he did in July, August, and September. He lets Social Security know the bonus was for those three months. Social Security applies the $600 bonus evenly over the months when it was earned: $200 in July, $200 in August, and $200 in September. If Cobalt had not explained to Social Security when he earned the bonus, they might have applied the full $600 bonus to the month when he received it. 

If bonuses are not connected to work efforts, they may not be counted as earnings; however, this is not common, as bonuses can often be tied in some way to your work contribution.

While reporting income every month is a best practice when you receive Title II, you are not required to report income to Social Security unless there has been a change in your work activity.

Please check out Reporting Monthly Work Activity to understand why reporting monthly is so important.

If you want to report past income, you can let Social Security know there has been a change in your work. This will trigger Social Security to send you a Work Activity Report, which is a tool they use to gather information about your current and past work. Completing this report will help Social Security get caught up to date on your work situation. 

The challenge of this approach is that, depending on how long it has been since you last completed this report, you may be expected to provide a lot of information about your work activity from years ago to the present. 

In these situations, you may want to talk with a Benefits Planner to understand what to expect and plan accordingly. A Benefits Planner can also help you identify and develop any work incentives, if applicable, which can be submitted with the Work Activity Report, along with past earnings and other work information.

Title II Benefits move through three work phases, and each phase has specific rules. We highly recommend you meet with a Benefits Planner to understand where you are in relation to these phases. 

By understanding where you are in relation to these phases:

  • You reduce the risk of overpayments
  • You can make informed decisions about work
  • You can budget money and plan for your future.

Social Security is not required to send you notification that a Work Incentive has been approved. We recommend you reach out to your local Social Security office every 30 days and ask about the status of your work incentive until you find out if it has been approved. 

Each time you reach out to Social Security, make a note of the date, time, who you talked with, and what was their response. Doing so may protect you if there ever is a dispute around your Work Incentive or any other matter.

Visit our resource on Overpayments to understand your options to appeal.

If you are in your Phase II: Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE), you may have stopped receiving a Title II check, because Social Security reviewed your work activity and decided you are working at or above SGA.



If you think Social Security has made an incorrect decision about SGA, you may want to speak with Social Security or a Benefits Planner about your situation. 

If you stopped receiving your Title II benefit in the Post-EPE, your benefits may be terminated.



If it has been less than 5 years since your benefits were terminated, and you think your work is no longer at the SGA level, you can ask for an
Expedited Reinstatement of Benefits (EXR). With EXR, you can ask for your benefits to be reinstated without having to complete a new application. 

You should let Social Security know when you begin a new job. You can report this by the 10th day of the month following the job start – or sooner, if possible.

When updating Social Security, provide the employer’s name, address, and contact information, as well as your start date, salary or hourly wage, and number of hours you expect to work per week.

If you have already completed your Phase 1: Trial Work Period, you may want to talk with a Benefit Planner to see if there are work incentives you can use. Work incentives help Social Security understand your work ability and may allow you to keep your Title II cash benefits when your earnings alone are over SGA.

You should let Social Security know if you stop working for any reason. You can report this by the 10th day of the month following the job loss – or sooner, if possible.

Telling Social Security about a job loss will likely trigger a Work Activity Report. If you stopped working for reasons related to your disability, be sure to include that information in the report: this helps Social Security have a better understanding about your work ability in relation to SGA.

Depending on the reason why you stopped working, you may be eligible for Unemployment benefits. Unemployment cash benefits will not affect your Title II benefits, but they may affect other benefits you receive, such as Medicaid.

Susan Harrell (00:04):
For this session, we will be discussing Title II benefits frequently asked questions focused on job loss or reduction, and SSDI and SSCDB.

Susan Harrell (00:20):
“Should I report a change in earnings to Social Security?”

Scott Leonard (00:24):
Yes. To report this change, call +1 800-772-1213. Or you can create a, my Social Security account and report the change. Go to ssa.gov/myaccount/.

Susan Harrell (00:48):
“When do I report a change in employment to Social Security?”

Scott Leonard (00:53):
Report the change no later than the 10th day of the next month. For example, if you stopped working in March, you should report this change no later than the 10th of April.

Susan Harrell (01:05):
“Will sick time affect my Title II benefit check?”

Scott Leonard (01:09):
No. Sick pay vacation pay, and non-work holiday pay are not considered work performed and do not affect your cash benefit.

Susan Harrell (01:20):
“Can I receive unemployment benefits while receiving Title II benefits?”

Scott Leonard (01:25):
If you qualify for unemployment benefits, the benefits will not impact your SSDI or SSCDB cash benefits. However, it’s important to know that, for some people, the combination of unemployment benefits and Title II benefits can result in a loss of eligibility for Apple Health or Medicaid.

Susan Harrell  (01:47):
“Can you explain more about how it might affect my Apple Health or Medicaid?”

Scott Leonard (01:54):
There are different ways to be eligible for Apple Health or Medicaid. If you’ve received notice that you have become ineligible for Apple Health or long-term care services, you may qualify through a different eligibility pathway. To apply for Apple Health, submit an application online at washingtonconnection.org, or you can call +1 877-501-2233. A loss of Apple Health or Medicaid may trigger the state to begin a redetermination. This is a process to determine if there was another way you can qualify for Apple Health. During their redetermination, you may receive additional information on how to apply for Apple Health. If you are a DDA eligible and have questions, you can contact a DDA financial team member at +1 855-873-0642.

Susan Harrell (02:59):
“If I lose Apple Health, what happens to my DDA waiver?”

Scott Leonard (03:06):
The DDA waiver is an Apple Health- or Medicaid-funded program. A loss in Apple Health could result in the loss of the waiver. However, as noted before, there are a number of different ways. You may be able to remain eligible for Apple Health.

Susan Harrell (03:26):
“I stopped working will my Medicare eligibility be affected?”

Scott Leonard (03:32):
A reduction in wages or termination in employment will not impact Medicare eligibility.

Susan Harrell (03:41):
“If I lose my job or have a reduction in earnings, can I qualify for Title II benefits again?”

Scott Leonard (03:49):
Possibly. If you are not receiving a benefit check, report your work change to Social Security. Social Security may be able to reinstate your cash benefit. If your Title II benefits terminated less than five years ago, you can request benefits to be reinstated to an Expedited Reinstatement of Benefits.

Susan Harrell (04:12):
“Can you tell me more about this Expedited Reinstatement of Benefits?”

Scott Leonard (04:17):
Yes. An Expedited Reinstatement of Benefits is a work incentive that may allow you to reestablish your Title II benefits quicker than a new application. To request an Expedited Reinstatement of Benefits, call +1 800-772-1213.

Susan Harrell (04:41):
“I’ve heard about something called Provisional Benefits. Can you explain what that is?”

Scott Leonard (04:47):
Sure. While Social Security reviews your expedited reinstatement of benefits request, you may receive Provisional Benefits for up to six months. These benefits can include cash payments and Medicare coverage. If your request is denied, you typically will not have to pay your Provisional Benefits back to Social Security.

Susan Harrell (05:11):
“How do I file a new application for Title II benefits?”

Scott Leonard (05:17):
To apply for Title II benefits, call +1 800-772-1213, or you can submit an application online. Go to ssa.gov/applyfordisability/.

Susan Harrell (05:29):
“Well workers’ compensation affect my Title II benefits?”

Scott Leonard (05:44):
If you receive workers’ compensation, you must report it to Social Security. A workers’ compensation benefit will not affect your eligibility for Title II benefits. Depending on your situation, the amount of one benefit check may offset some or all of the amount of the other benefit check.

Social Security looks at self-employment income differently than wages. 

  • Social Security will look at your Net Earnings from Self Employment when comparing your work ability to SGA.  Net Earnings from Self-Employment is your profit after subtracting certain business expenses.
  • If you are in your Trial Work Period, your self-employment work hours can also count as one TWP month, if you work more than 80 hours in a month. 

We recommend you talk with a Benefits Planner to understand how your Net Earnings from Self-employment might affect your Title II benefits. You may also wish to speak with a small business tax professional to understand how to calculate your NESE.

If you receive a Title II benefit, you may later be asked to apply for another type of Title II check. For example, you may receive SSDI based on your own work record, and later be asked to apply for SSCDB because a parent is now disabled or has retired or died.  

In these situations, you will not receive the full amount of each Title II benefit. Rather, you will receive a combination of benefit amounts which equal the largest Title II cash benefit you are eligible for.

 

If you need support, you may want to talk with a benefits planner. You can visit the Get Help page for a list of benefits planners who may be able to help.

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