An unsuccessful attempt to work after you have filed for benefits

March 6, 2014

Sometimes, individuals will try to attempt to work after they have filed an application for disability. However, these individuals may soon realize that their disability or a lack of an accommodation for that disability causes them to fail at the job. While it is generally true that you cannot work over a certain amount of money and apply for benefits, there may be an exception.  The Social Security Administration calls the above situation an Unsuccessful Work Attempt.  If your work attempt falls into the criteria set by the Social Security Administration, those earnings may potentially not be counted against you.

In order for a work attempt to satisfy the criteria for an unsuccessful work attempt, there must be a significant break from the time you last work and this new work attempt.  The “significant break” must be at least 30 days. During those 30 days, you may have had a significantly reduced income or have stopped working altogether. There are also requirements based upon how long you attempted to work.  

For some people, the only reason they are able to work with their disabilities is because there are some special conditions in their workplace. According the Social Security Administration’s Programs Operational Manual System, these special conditions include:

  • assistance from other employees in performing the job;
  • being allowed to work irregular hours or take frequent breaks,
  • special equipment
  • being allowed assistance in getting to and from the workplace
  • Was permitted to perform at a lower standard of productivity or efficiency than other employees; or
  • Was granted the opportunity to work, despite his or her handicap, because of family relationship, past association with the firm, or other altruistic reason.

There are two different sets of rules depending on how long you tried to work for. If you worked for less than three months and then were forced to leave your job due to your medical problems, your work attempt will be considered unsuccessful. If your work attempt was between three and six months, your work attempt will be considered unsuccessful if it involved removal of one of the special conditions above and one of the following:

  • frequent absences;
  • unsatisfactory work performance;
  • work was completed during a period of remission of impairment; or
  • work was completed under a special condition.

Ultimately, every claimant’s situation is different. We are happy to consult with you about your situation so please contact us at 312-443-0900 today for a free consultation.