The Social Security Administration has just instituted new changes to it’s various programs starting 2010 and some of the changes will directly affect eligibility for Social Security Disability hopefuls and those receiving the benefits. Social Security released a Fact Sheet earlier this year to reflect some of their changes. For those already receiving either Disabiliuty Insurance Benefits or Supplemental Security Income, there was no Cost-Of-Living Adjustment, which typically raises the dollar amount for disability recipients.
The key changes that pertain to Social Security Disability included:
- Quarter of Coverage: To be eligible for disability, you need to earn a specific amount of credits over the duration of your employment history. You can earn up to 4 credits per year. In 2009, you needed to earn $1,090 for a single credit and $4,360 to get the maximum 4 credits allowed in 1 year. In 2010, you need to earn $1,120 to earn a single credit – an increase of $30. To earn the maximum 4 credits now, you need to earn $4,480.
- Social Security Disability Thresholds: Substantial Gainful Activity in 2009 was set at $980. Starting in 2010, Substantial Gainful Activity is set at $1,000. This means that if you are earning over $1,000 per month, you are considered to be “working,” or participating in substantial gainful activity and therefore not eligible for disability benefits (for those specific months).
- Trial Work Period: If you’ve been awarded disability benefits and over the course of time, you recover enough where you think you can go back to work, Social Security has created a program called a Trial Work Period. This program allows you to return to a working capacity for 9 months and still receive benefits. If after 9 months, you are earning over a specific amount, your benefits will stop. In 2009, that specific amount of money was $700 per month. In 2010, this amount was raised to $720. This means if you earn over $720 for 9 consecutive months, your benefits will stop. But during that 9 months, you can continue to collect your disability benefits and money earned from a job.