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Learn more about POD

Understanding the new POD rules

Current Rules

  • Benefit suspension for earnings in excess of Substantial Gainful Activity. If your gross countable monthly earnings are more than Substantial Gainful Activity ($1,180 for non-blind and $1,970 for blind beneficiaries) after the Trial Work Period and Grace Period, your benefit checks will stop. The Social Security Administration (SSA) counts monthly earnings above the Substantial Gainful Activity amounts after allowable deductions such as Impairment-Related Work Expenses. If your countable earnings later fall below Substantial Gainful Activity and it is less than 36 months after your nine-month Trial Work Period ended, SSA will start paying your benefits again and does not need to determine that you still have a disability.
  • Termination. If your gross countable monthly earnings exceed Substantial Gainful Activity after the 36-month extended period of eligibility, your entitlement to Social Security Disability Insurance benefits will terminate.
  • Expedited reinstatement. If your benefits terminate because of your work, you can ask SSA within the following 60 months to start your checks again. You will not have to go through the entire disability application process, but SSA will need to verify that you still have a disability. You might be eligible for provisional benefits while SSA reviews your request.

New POD Rules Group 1

  • No Trial Work Period and Grace Period
  • POD benefit adjustment. Your monthly benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $2 of monthly earnings above the higher of the following: (1) $850 in 2018 (called the POD earnings threshold) or (2) your total monthly itemized Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWEs) if that amount is greater than $850. If you have allowable IRWEs that are greater than $850 per month, the benefit adjustment will apply only to earnings above the IRWE amount up to the current Substantial Gainful Activity level ($1,180 for non-blind beneficiaries and $1,970 for blind beneficiaries in 2018).
  • No termination because of earnings for the duration of the demonstration. Your benefits may be completely zeroed out because of high earnings, but your entitlement continues. For example, if you end up earning less than Substantial Gainful Activity again, then your disability benefits and the POD offset will resume.
  • Expedited reinstatement (not applicable or necessary). There is no termination in POD Group 1.

New POD Rules Group 2

  • No Trial Work Period and Grace Period
  • POD benefit adjustment. The POD benefit adjustment is the same as for POD Rules Group 1.
  • Termination is possible, but expedited reinstatement can apply. Your benefits may be completely zeroed out because of high earnings but might be payable if your earnings drop. Your entitlement to Social Security Disability Insurance will be terminated if your benefits are zeroed out because of earnings for 12 or more months in a row.
  • Expedited reinstatement. If your entitlement is ended for this reason, then you are eligible for expedited reinstatement as you would be under current rules.

For more information about current SSA rules and SSDI policies, please see SSA’s Red Book.

  • The difference between the two new rules groups is the rule for termination.
    • New POD Rules Group 1: If you are assigned to this group, then your eligibility for SSDI benefits will not end even if your monthly earnings are high enough that SSA no longer sends you a benefit check because your benefits are offset to zero.
    • New POD Rules Group 2: If you are assigned to this group, then your eligibility for SSDI will end if your earnings are high enough that your benefits are offset to zero for 12 or more months in a row. To become eligible for SSDI again, you would have to go through the same re-application process as under current rules. If your re-application is successful, and your benefits are reinstated before POD ends in June 2021, then you would automatically return to new POD rules group 2.