It depends. If you go back to work and earn more than the SGA level, which in 2015 is $1,090 per month (before taxes) you generally will be disqualified from receiving benefits at step one of the Five-Step Sequential Evaluation Process. However, if you can characterize this work as an Unsuccessful Work Attempt (“UWA”), you will not be automatically disqualified.
First, for the work to qualify as an UWA, you must generally show that your impairments prevented you from working (or reduced your income to below SGA level) for at least 30 consecutive days before your UWA started.
Second, in cases where the UWA lasted 3 months or less, the work activity must have ended (or have been reduced to below-SGA levels) because of your impairment(s) or because the employer removed special accommodations which allowed you to work.
Third, in cases where the UWA lasted 3 to 6 months, the work activity must have ended (or reduced to below SGA level) because of your impairment or the removal of special accommodations, and you must show one of the following additional requirements:
- There must have been frequent absences due to the impairment; or
- The work must have been unsatisfactory due to the impairment; or
- The work must have been done during a period of temporary remission of the impairment; or
- The work must have been done under special conditions.
If you work above SGA level for more than 6 months, then the work cannot qualify as an UWA, and you will be found “not disabled” at step one of the Sequential Evaluation Process.
If you earn less than SGA level ($1,090 per month in 2015), your work will not automatically disqualify you at step one, regardless how long it lasts. However, your ability to work even a part-time job does show some ability to function, and might affect whether you are found disabled later on in the Sequential Evaluation Process. In other words, depending on the circumstances of the job, i.e., how physically demanding it is, how many hours per week it is, etc., your ability to do this job, even if it is only part-time, might suggest that you could perform some full-time jobs and are therefore not disabled.