Thinking About Work


What will happen to my family member’s benefits if s/he starts working?

There is no one answer to this question as there are many factors that determine what happens to SSI, SSDI, Veterans Benefits, Workmens Compensation, Health Benefits, etc. when a person starts working.

Answers depend on factors such as how long the employment lasted, how recently the employee may have been on SSI or SSDI, the reason for termination, or whether the employment was part time or full time. For example, if the employee was on SSI or SSDI just prior to working and then leaves a job, the employee can apply for expedited reinstatement of benefits without having to wait for a new application to be processed. If the employee became ill or injured on the job and the cause was work-related, Workmen’s Compensation might pay for medical costs and a portion of pay. However, as in many cases with benefits, all the details should be discussed with a Benefits Specialist to make sure correct information is obtained. (SSA Red Book)

Understanding what happens to benefits/wages when someone works is critical and working with a Benefits Specialist is the best approach. The hope is that, with support, your family member will increase their income (from wages) whether or not they keep their cash benefits (SSI or SSDI). A recent study of 23,725 people with “severe mental illnesses” who received services from the state vocational rehabilitation agencies showed that their income from wages increased by 240% between application and the end of services. (WallsWalls)

For more information on benefits specialists, the impact of work on benefits, and maximizing income, please see the topics below.


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