When a Social Security Disability applicant tries to perform substantial gainful work activity and that attempt fails within six months from the start date, it may be considered an unsuccessful work attempt by the Social Security Administration (SSA). In order to be considered an unsuccessful work attempt, the attempt must fail due to the disabling condition that the applicant is suffering from or a lack of appropriate accommodations being provided for the disabled worker.
Many people feel that attempting to work during the disability claim process will automatically disqualify an individual from receiving Social Security Disability benefits. This is not necessarily the case. An unsuccessful work attempt will not have a negative impact on an individual's Social Security Disability claim. To the contrary, an unsuccessful work attempt may actually prove to the SSA that an applicant is unable to maintain substantial gainful activity and may further support the individual's claim for disability benefits.
When determining whether or not a work attempt has been unsuccessful, an adjudicator will focus on four factors including whether or not the disability caused the individual to experience significant absences from work, whether or not the disability affected the applicant's work performance, if the applicant's ability to work was based on a temporary remission of the condition (which once again worsened) and whether or not the work was performed under temporary special conditions that accommodated the individual's disability.
A work attempt may also be considered unsuccessful if the applicant was able to perform the work requirements, but was unable to earn enough income to exceed the SSA's limits for substantial gainful employment. If you work but are unable to earn more than the substantial gainful income limits, the work activity will usually not disqualify you from being approved for Social Security Disability benefits.
If you ever have a question regarding whether or not an attempt at work will be considered unsuccessful or will hurt your chances of obtaining disability benefits, you may want to consult with a qualified disability attorney or advocate. These professionals can help you understand how your work activity will affect your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits.