Each year the Social Security Administration (SSA) publishes an updated version of The Red Book, which serves as a source of information regarding employment related provisions of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. The most recent version of The Red Book was released in January 2013 and is available on SSA’s website at: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/redbook/. New to the 2013 Red Book are several Automatic Adjustments, including changes to the income threshold for Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) and the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR), among other important numbers that disability claimants and professionals who serve those with disabilities should be aware of.

An individual who currently receives or is filing for SSI or SSDI should be aware of the effect working, or attempts to work, will have on their benefits or claim. One topic discussed in the 2013 Red Book is the Trial Work Period (TWP). The TWP allows disabled individuals to test their ability to work, without the possibility of losing their benefits. The TWP starts when you begin working or performing services. In order to qualify as the performance of “services”, monthly earnings must be more than $750 per month, or you must work more than 80 hours a month in self-employment. If an individual meets these requirements for 9 months out of a rolling 60 month period, then the TWP is complete. The 9 months do not need to be consecutive. During this TWP, an individual will continue to receive full disability benefits, regardless of the level of income earned, so long as a disabling impairment continues. If an individual completes the TWP, he or she would then enter the Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE), during which the claimant will continue to receive benefits if not working at the SGA level. It is important to note that only SSDI claimants are eligible for the TWP.

For a full explanation of the many employment support provisions of the SSI and SSDI programs, view the 2013 Red Book at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/redbook/.