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Learn more about POD

Participating in POD

  1. SSA will randomly assign you to new POD rules group 1, new POD rules group 2, or the SSA current rules group. A staff member from the POD project will notify you via mail about your group.
  2. You will receive $25 for completing the consent form and survey.
  3. If you are assigned to the current rules group, you will continue to follow the current SSA rules and work with your Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) counselor.
  4. If you are assigned to one of the new POD rules groups, a POD work incentives counselor from Abt Associates will contact you to welcome you to the study. SSA has contracted with Abt Associates to support the implementation of the POD study.
  5. SSA has contracted with 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, even if you are part of the current rules group. 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.

  • If SSA assigns you to the SSA current rules group, you will follow SSA’s current rules just like you did before agreeing to participate in POD.
  • If SSA assigns you to one of the new POD rules groups, you will follow new rules that will allow you to keep some of your benefits when your earnings are high enough that you would otherwise lose them all under current rules. 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. No matter which group SSA randomly assigns you to, 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 in that month. In other words, as long as your SSDI benefits under POD are greater than zero in a particular month, your children will recieve their full SSDI payments 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. If SSA assigns you to a new POD rules group, you will have 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. If SSA assigns you to a new POD rules group, then you will 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. If SSA assigns you to the SSA current rules group, then you can keep working with your WIPA counselor.

  • If SSA assigns you to a new POD rules group, you will be strongly encouraged to report earnings to help SSA make sure that you receive the correct SSDI benefits. See below for more information.
    • When to report earnings—You will be 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. This includes a return of the availability of any unused Trial Work Period (TWP) months that SSA did not determine before you entered the POD 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.