Social Security Introduces New Work Incentive Demonstration Project for SSDI

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has introduced a new trial program to help SSDI recipients return to work or increase their earnings. It’s called the Promoting Opportunity Demonstration Project (POD) and it will run for five years. It’s available only in some states and participation is voluntary.

Here are its main features:

  • SSDI recipients will receive a reduction of $1 in monthly benefits for every $2 in earnings that exceed a person’s impairment-related work expenses (IRWEs) for that month.
  • No SSDI benefits will be paid in any month in which benefits are reduced to $0 due to earnings. During any month that benefits are reduced due to earnings but still payable, there will be no termination of benefits due to work and the trial work period or extended period of eligibility won’t apply. (Under one test group, however, recipients whose benefit is reduced to $0 for 12 consecutive months will have their SSDI entitlement terminated.)
  • If benefits are terminated because they are reduced to $0 due to earnings, a person eligible for Medicare remains eligible for Medicare for 93 additional months, provided his or her physical or mental impairment continues.
  • For the purposes of this demonstration project, a person’s impairment-related work expenses will be deemed to be set at a threshold amount set by the SSA, with the SSA having the authority to test different threshold amounts. If IRWEs are greater than the threshold amount, they will be set at the actual amount of the person’s IRWEs. In no case will a person’s impairment-related work expenses exceed the substantial gainful activity level.

In the example below, the SSA shows how the agency will calculate the amount by which monthly SSDI benefit payments will be reduced for a recipient whose earnings exceed the POD threshold. The example uses the POD threshold that would apply in 2017.

Example: An SSDI recipient reports monthly earnings of $1,040. The POD threshold is $840. The recipient’s monthly earnings exceed the threshold by $200. The SSA will reduce the beneficiary’s SSDI benefit payment by $100 ($200 ÷ 2).

POD will be tested only in the following areas:

  • Alabama (all counties)
  • California (Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties)
  • Connecticut (all counties)
  • Maryland (Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties; Baltimore City)
  • Michigan (Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, Kent, St. Joseph, and Van Buren counties)
  • Nebraska (Adams, Buffalo, Douglas, Hall, Lancaster, and Sarpy counties)
  • Texas (Bexar, Dallas, and Tarrant counties), and
  • Vermont (all counties).

If you are eligible for this POD demonstration project study, the SSA may contact you with more details, and then you can decide if you want to participate.

Effective Date: November 1, 2017