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SSDI- Will it hurt my chances to return to work in the future?

SSDI and work

Recently on our disability forum we had a user ask, “If I get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for a period of time and attempt to return to work will the fact that I got disability in the past hurt my chances of future employment?” This blog will address the legal and realistic aspects of this question.

Returning to work after getting SSDI benefits

The good news for many SSDI applicants who want to return to work at some point in the future is that the Social Security Administration (SSA) does have a program that will allow you to return to work and receive benefits for a specified time period as you make the attempt. Claimants can also continue to receive Medicare for a set time.

The process is called a trial work period. Talk to the SSA BEFORE going back to work to make sure you understand how much you can work and how much money you can make before a trial work period is triggered. Working without understanding the program could result in a termination of your benefits or a SSDI overpayment which you would have to repay.

Do I have to tell my employer I received SSDI in the past?

You do not have to tell your employer about your disability, but if your disability limits your ability to perform specific job functions or affects the safety of other employees, disclosure is necessary. You do not need to disclose specific medical or personal information about your disability.

Disability Discrimination is illegal

The good news is if your employer is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended, or the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, they are not allowed to discriminate against you because of a disability.

What is discrimination according to the act? The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

Under the law certain employers are required to provide, “Reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer ("undue hardship").”

Bottom Line

Described above are the legal issues surrounding disability and work. Realistically if you apply for a job and you have been disabled and out of the work force for several years your employer may have questions about gaps in your work history that could be difficult to explain without telling them you have been receiving SSDI benefits.

Additionally, although the law forbids discrimination (for many employers) due to a disability it can be tough for claimants who have disabilities to find work, especially in a tough job market. Additionally, it could be very hard to prove that you were not hired specifically because you had a disability. There are millions of workers right now that are having difficulty finding a job.
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