Social Security Disability benefits by design are for individuals who cannot work due to a disability. You have to be unable to work when applying for benefits. However, this does not mean that you can never work again. Some conditions may improve, or you may have periods where you are fine to work. In this situation, you may be able to work and receive benefits.
It is important to note that this only applies once you receive benefits. In general, if you are working when you apply for benefits, you will not receive an approval. The Social Security Administration explains that there are special rules that may allow you to work and continue to receive your benefits.
Cutting you off
The SSA understands that you may return to work only to find that it is not sustainable. This is why these special rules are in place. They may allow you to continue getting your health benefits and your monetary benefits for a set time after you start working.
If you currently get SSDI, you may work for nine months while still getting your full benefits. This is the trial work period that allows you to work and earn a certain amount each month. Once you reach the set limit for the earnings in a month, it will count toward the nine months. When you work all nine months, your benefits end. The trial work period lasts for 60 months. So, within those 60 months, you may work nine months and earn up to the set limit. Check with the SSA for the current limit as it changes regularly.
If your earnings are low enough, you may be able to continue benefits for 36 months after you return to work and go through the trial work period. Again, the earnings limit varies.
Ideally, you will one day be able to return to work and get off SSDI. The SSA tries to make the transition easy for you so that you do not immediately lose your benefits. This allows you to be sure you really are ready to return to work.