If SSA randomly assigns you to one of the two new POD rules groups, you will have:
Simplified work rules. The new POD rules eliminate the Trial Work Period and Grace Period. It also eliminates the need for a work continuing disability review during POD participation. The new rules for reporting earnings should reduce the chance of reporting errors and overpayments if you report earnings to SSA timely and accurately. The expectation is that you will submit paystubs monthly.
New benefit adjustment process. Your monthly benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $2 of monthly earnings more than the higher of the following: (1) the Trial Work Period amount ($850) or (2) your total monthly itemized Impairment-Related Work Expenses if that monthly amount is greater than the Trial Work Period amount . As under current rules, the Trial Work Period amount might change from year to year. If you have allowable Impairment-Related Work Expenses that are more than the Trial Work Period amount in a month, the benefit adjustment for that month will only apply to earnings above the Impairment-Related Work Expenses amount up to the current SGA level ($1,180 for non-blind beneficiaries and $1,970 for blind beneficiaries in 2018).
Benefits counseling. You will have the opportunity to receive POD-specific benefits counseling to make sure you understand the new rules.
Explore the POD scenarios and calculator to see examples of how the new POD rules affect beneficiaries with different benefits and earnings or design your own example.
If SSA randomly assigns you to the current rules group, your work rules will remain the same. SSA will conduct periodic continuing disability reviews to assess your ongoing eligibility. During a medical continuing disability review, if SSA finds that your medical condition has improved enough so that you can work, your benefits will end. Likewise, during a work continuing disability review, SSA will review your work since you became disabled and might determine that your work has become substantial (defined later) and that your disability ended with your performance of substantial work. Under current rules, going to work does not affect your benefits right away. First, you get a nine-month trial work period during which you can earn any amount without losing any benefits. In 2018, any month in which your earnings are above $850 counts as a Trial Work Period month. The amount might change from year to year. The nine months of trial work do not have to be consecutive, but they must be completed within a 60-month (five-year) rolling time period.
For 36 months following your completion of the Trial Work Period, known as the Extended Period of Eligibility, SSA will continue to consider your earnings on a monthly basis and will pay you benefits for all months in which it does not consider your work to be Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). SSA considers your work to be SGA if your monthly earnings, after allowable deductions such as Impairment-Related Work Expenses, exceed the SGA amount. In 2018, the SGA amount is $1,180 a month for a person who is not blind or $1,970 a month for a person who is blind. These amounts might change from year to year.
When SSA completes a work review and determines that you have not only completed your nine-month Trial Work Period but also continued working and performed SGA after the completion of the Trial Work Period, SSA will inform you that your disability ended that month because of your performance of substantial work. However, SSA will still pay your full benefit for that month and for the next two consecutive months. These three months are called the Grace Period.
After the grace period, SSA will not pay benefits to you or any of your dependents for any month in which you earn more than the SGA amount, but during the 36-month Extended Period of Eligibility that begins after your nine-month Trial Work Period, SSA will continue to pay you full benefits for months when you do not. If you earn above the SGA amount after the 36 month Extended Period of Eligibility, SSA will terminate your benefits. After SSA terminates your benefits, you can get them back only by applying to have them reinstated. If you apply for reinstatement within five years, there are special rules to expedite the process. You might be entitled to provisional benefits while you wait for SSA’s decision during this expedited process. After five years, you would have to apply through the usual SSDI application process.
For more information about current SSA rules and SSDI policies, including the TWP, grace period, and Extended Period of Eligibility, please see SSA’s Red Book.
For beneficiaries with few or no Impairment-Related Work Expenses, the POD special rules are more favorable when earnings are above the current SGA amount ($1,180 for non-blind and $1,970 for blind beneficiaries in 2018) and the current law nine-month Trial Work Period and three-month grace period have already been used. Under current law, earnings greater than SGA after the nine-month Trial Work Period and three-month grace period will cause your benefit payments to stop; whereas, under the new POD rules, benefits would just be reduced by half of the amount that your earnings are above the monthly Trial Work Period amount ($850 in 2018).
In some months, your SSDI benefit could be lower under the new POD rules than under SSA’s current rules. We encourage you to explore the POD scenarios and calculator to see how your benefits may change under POD. Below, we provide some information about how your benefits might change under POD. If you have more questions, please contact the POD call center at 1-888-771-9188.
For beneficiaries with Impairment Related Work Expenses
If your monthly earnings are above the POD threshold [that is, the current Trial Work Period amount ($850 in 2018)] and you have not used your nine-month Trial Work Period and three-month grace period, under current rules you will get full benefits. However, if you have earnings above the current SGA amount after your three-month grace period has expired, you will lose all benefits under current rules. Under the new POD rules your benefits will be reduced by half of the amount of your earnings above $850.
If your earnings are between $850 and the SGA amount ($1,180 for non-blind beneficiaries, $1,970 for blind beneficiaries), under current rules you will receive full benefits even after you have used up your nine-month Trial Work Period and three-month Grace Period. However, under the new POD rules, your benefits will be reduced by half of the amount of your earnings above $850.
If you do not know whether you have used your Trial Work Period or Grace Period months, you can contact your local Work Incentives Planning and Assistance provider.
If you have Impairment-Related Work Expenses that regularly reduce your monthly earnings to below the SGA amount, then the new POD rules would likely not benefit you.
If you receive a subsidy—a rare occurrence in which an employer subsidizes a beneficiary’s wages—you could be better off under current rules than under the new POD rules. Under current rules, if you believe your employer subsidizes your wages, SSA contacts your employer to confirm the subsidy amount and deducts that amount from your countable earnings. Under the new POD rules, SSA does not consider subsidized earnings; they will count all total earnings.