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Life after Disability: Can I return to school?

Disability: It was the only way to get the time you needed to adequately heal. You're grateful for the help, but now that you are feeling better, you wonder what is next. You've heard that going back to work can affect your benefits--and you're not sure you are even healthy enough to return more than part-time. Your injury left you unable to do your old job, and you need more training for a new one. But will Social Security end your benefits if you go back to school?

The Social Security Administration is dedicated to helping you get back to work. There are a number of programs available that can help you ease back into the workforce: From job-counseling to job-mentors, Social Security has tools available to help you get back to work.

But I need more training

The Social Security Administration does not offer direct job-training. But it does participate in some re-entry programs such as Ticket to Work. Also, when you chose to go back to work, you are entitled to a nine month Trial Work Period that lets you assess your ability to manage full-time work while still receiving your benefits.

If, however, you find that you are not ready to go back to work without further education, the good news is that the Social Security Administration allows beneficiaries to return to school and still collect benefits. Going to school is not considered "work" under their definitions.

Won't they think I can work if I can go to school?

The fact that you have returned to school does not mean you are able to work. Social Security can review your disability at any time, and they have two methods for determining whether your disability is continuing: Wages and medical. If your wages are over $1130.00 (in 2016), you are considered to be engaged in "Substantial Gainful Activity."

The administration can, and sometimes does, cease benefits due to SGA, while recognizing that you may still have a medical disability. The second way the Social Security Administration terminates benefits is by proving that you are no longer medically disabled.

Returning to school is not considered proof of ability to work under either of these tests. If you would like to go back to school--do so. Education is never a bad investment, and it may lead you to a time in the future when you can again work full-time.

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