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Special rules make it possible for people receiving Social Security disability benefits to work and still receive monthly payments.
A trial work period allows you to test your ability to work for at least nine months. During your trial work period, you will receive your full Social Security benefits regardless of how much you are earning as long as you report your work activity and you continue to have a disabling impairment. In 2012, a trial work month is any month in which your total earnings are over $720, or if you are self-employed, you earn more than $720 (after expenses) or work more than 80 hours in your own business. The trial work period continues until you have worked nine months within a 60-month period.
After your trial work period, you have 36 months during which you can work and still receive benefits for any month your earnings are not "substantial." In 2012, the SSA generally considers earnings over $1,010/month ($1,690/month if you are blind) to be substantial. No new application or disability decision is needed for you to receive a Social Security disability benefit during this period.
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