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Participant Information

Participating in POD

  • After you sign up for POD and are randomly assigned to one of the new POD rules groups, you will receive a welcome packet in the mail that includes a welcome letter with detailed information about POD, contact information for your POD work incentives counselor, and three POD reporting forms.
  • One week after being randomly assigned to one of the new POD rules groups, your work incentives counselor will call you to discuss your participation in POD.

  • SSA randomly assigned you to one of the two new POD rules groups. In both groups, your monthly benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $2 of monthly earnings above which ever number is higher: (1) $850 in earnings, or (2) your total monthly itemized IRWEs, if they are greater than $850. The difference between the two new POD 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.
  • You will see no change in your SSDI benefit check if you earn less than $850 per month. See Understanding the new POD rules and How earnings from work affect benefits for more information.
  • 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.

  • Yes. The following rules still apply to you:
    • You will still undergo periodic medical reviews. You could lose your benefits if SSA determines your medical condition has improved. However, working will not result in a medical review, and participation in POD will not affect selection for these reviews.
    • Your benefits could still be suspended for non-work-related issues, such as SSA deciding during a medical continuing disability review that your disability has improved.
    • Your auxiliaries (for example, eligible children on your record receiving Social Security benefit payments) will continue to be eligible for monthly benefits as long as you are eligible for benefits during that month. In other words, as long as your SSDI benefits under POD are greater than zero in a particular month, your children will receive their full SSDI payment in that month too.
    • If you receive more benefits than you are due in any month, you will have to repay the overpayment. SSA might allow you to repay the overpayment in installments to avoid financial hardship.
    • You will still be eligible for Ticket to Work.

  • Yes. Work incentives counseling is a service that helps you understand SSA rules about how working may change your benefits. As a POD participant, you have been assigned a special POD work incentives counselor provided to you by SSA’s contractor Abt Associates. Your POD work incentives counselor can provide the following services:
    • Help you access employment support services to gain work skills, similar to Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) services
    • Explain how the new POD rules will affect your benefits if you work
    • Help you report monthly earnings and IRWEs to SSA
    • Explain any SSA notices you receive
    • Assist you with appealing or seeking other types of relief from determinations made by SSA, such as overpayment decisions, if necessary
    • Help you return to SSA's current rules after POD ends
  • In the past, you may have worked with a WIPA counselor. As a participant in POD, you need to work with your POD counselor because only your POD counselor has training on the POD rules and understands how the POD rules can affect your SSDI benefits.

  • POD participants are strongly encouraged to report earnings and IRWEs (if more than $850) regularly to help SSA make sure that they receive the correct SSDI benefits. Some POD participants may need to report their earnings monthly. See below for more information.
    • When to report earnings: You are strongly encouraged to report earnings to the POD project:
      • Any month when your monthly earnings are greater than the POD threshold ($850 a month for 2018).
      • AND

      • The first month that your earnings are less than the POD threshold, if you previously earned above the POD threshold while you were in POD
    • When to report IRWEs:
      • Any month when your IRWEs and your earnings are both greater than the POD threshold.
      • If your IRWEs for a given month are less than the POD threshold, then you do not need to report them to POD.
  • If you do not report your earnings to SSA on a monthly basis, there is a risk that SSA could pay you more benefits than you are owed if your earnings change. If this happens, SSA will send you an overpayment notice.
  • For more information on how to report your earnings and IRWEs, see Reporting your earnings and IRWEs. We also encourage you to review SSA’s Red Book to learn more about current SSA rules and SSDI policies, including IRWEs.

  • The demonstration will end in June 2021. Once the demonstration ends, you will return to SSA’s current rules. You will receive a letter before POD ends with information about what will happen after POD ends.
  • Your participation in POD could end earlier than June 2021 if you choose to withdraw from the study or if SSA determines you are no longer eligible for SSDI benefits. You can re-apply for SSDI benefits after a termination. If your re-application is successful and your SSDI benefits re-start before June 2021, then you will still be able to participate in POD. You will automatically return to either the current rules group or the new POD rules group—whichever group you were enrolled in before your termination.

  • Yes. SSA has hired a research organization, Mathematica Policy Research, to study POD. Mathematica Policy Research will contact you in the future to ask you to complete one or two follow-up surveys. These surveys will ask you to provide updated information about your education, recent work experiences, and your use of benefits, among other topics. All of these surveys are voluntary. SSA will pay you for participating in them.