Justice Worked: Transitioning from disability benefits to employment and back again

Our client is a 64-year-old woman who has been living with HIV for 30 years and on Social Security disability benefits. She began to feel well enough to return to work and got a job with a social service organization.

She knew the first step was to contact the Social Security office so she didn’t risk losing the Medicare that enabled her to feel well enough to work in the first place. She also wanted to be sure that if her job didn’t work out, or if she wasn’t well enough to continue with her job, that she would still be eligible for the social security disability benefits that she fought so hard to get so many years ago.

She called the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania for help navigating.

We explained to her that Social Security has an incentive program that encourages disabled people to work. Some people are able to collect their disability benefits and keep their Medicare as they test their ability to work during the Trial Work Period (TWP). We assisted her in reporting her new income and she kept her benefits during this Trial Work Period. At the end of the Trial Work Period, we made sure that Social Security stopped her disability benefits.

After working for a year and a half, the client’s health began to deteriorate and she felt she could no longer work. She called us again for assistance. We devised a plan to help her transition from employment back to social security disability benefits. The client took a break from working to focus on her health and her disability benefits resumed as soon as her employment income stopped.

If she is ready to try employment again, we will be there to advise her at every step along the way.

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