Recently on our legal forum a user asked, I have been fighting cancer for the last three years. Through aggressive treatment and good medical care my cancer is now in remission. I have been receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for two years. I am wondering if I can now return to work, and if yes, what do I need to tell the Social Security Administration (SSA)?
Cancer in remission: contact the SSA before returning to work
Given the advancements in medical care and aggressive methods to treat illnesses, including cancer, it has been possible for many disabled workers to return to work. If you decide you want to return to work you first need to contact the SSA and let them know. They can be contacted by fax, mail, or in person. You can also call them at
1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.
If eventually return to work and need to periodically report your earnings this can be done through a toll-free automated wage reporting telephone system and a mobile wage reporting application which can be accessed at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi/spotlights/spot-telephone-wage.htm.
Will I continue to receive SSDI while I attempt to go back to work?
While its great news that your cancer has responded so well to treatment, it is possible that your cancer could return or you might attempt to work only to find your treatment has left you unable to adapt to a demanding work schedule.
The good news it the SSA has created special work incentives- referred to as a Trial Work Period- which allow workers to attempt to go back to work while continuing to receive Medicare and monthly SSDI benefits.
Additionally, if you attempt to go back to work only to find you are unable, these work incentives may also allow you to reinitiate SSDI benefits without filing another SSDI application.
What is a Trial Work Period?
If you are cancer free and decide to return to work the SSA will allow you to test your ability to work for at least 9 months within a 60 month period. As mentioned above, during this Trial Work Period you will continue to receive SSDI benefits.
A trial work month will occur for any month in which your earnings are $810 or more. If you work 9 months and earn this amount within a 60 month period then your Trial Work Period ends and another period of extended eligibility begins.
The extended eligibility period allows you to receive SSDI benefits for another 36 months for any month in which your earnings are not substantial. Earnings which are considered substantial are those which are $1,130 ($1,820 if youre blind) or higher.
Will I continue to receive Medicare?
According to the SSA, If your Social Security disability benefits have to stop because of your earnings, but youre still disabled, your free Medicare Part A?coverage will continue?for at least 93 months?after the nine-month trial?work period.
If your cancer is in remission and you want to return to work the SSA has special programs to help you accomplish your goal.