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Looking for work is this a requirement for SSDI?

It’s not unusual for many disability applicants to be confused about the requirements for winning SSDI benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applicants also have questions about what it takes to keep their SSDI benefits once they are approved. Recently on our disability forum a disability applicant asked, “Once I receive SSDI benefits do I need to keep looking for work?”

Am I disabled according to the SSA?

Do you have to keep looking for work after you receive SSDI benefits? The answer to this question is no. SSDI is not like other types of federal assistance programs such as welfare or unemployment benefits which the government offers with certain “strings attached” such as the claimant must continue to search for employment opportunities and show proof of this search in order to keep their monthly benefits.

SSDI is a wage assistance program given to claimants who are severely disabled and will not be able to work due to their mental or physical health condition for at least 12 continuous months. Now, the SSA does provide a program which allows claimants, whose condition has improved, to make attempts to reenter the work force. The good news is because the SSA wants anyone who can begin to work again to make the attempt their program offers good incentives to help claimants make this transition.

Consider, however, if you would like to return to work you need to talk to the Social Security Administration BEFORE you begin working to make sure you understand the program.

If you can look for work are you really disabled?

There is a more troubling aspect to this claimant’s question that we need to address. The fact this claimant believes they may be able to keep looking for work tells me they may not be 100% disabled or even if they think they are, the SSA is likely to believe they are not.

What does the SSA consider a disability? The SSA considers you disabled if you are not able to work your current job, your past work or retrain for new work. So if you think you have the ability to go and look for a job and potentially retrain for less strenuous work then you need to do that and not apply for SSDI benefits because you will be denied.

Additionally,  SSDI benefits are only for claimants who are 100% disabled. The SSA, unlike VA disability or workers’ compensation, does not offer any type of short-term or partial disability benefits. This means that if you apply for SSDI benefits you need to think of it as a permanent disability program, not a temporary solution for a temporary condition.

The SSA gets over 3 million disability applications each year and what they don’t need is any more applications to process from claimants who are not truly disabled. If you can work- go to work.
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