Will I Lose SSDI Benefits While Attending College?


There’s no doubt that college puts a serious dent in your wallet, so it's understandable that you're concerned about losing your SSDI payments. Fortunately, college attendance doesn’t automatically mean you’ll stop receiving your SSDI. In fact, the Social Security Administration (SSA) encourages blind and disabled people to pursue an education and seek out new work opportunities so they may become financially independent.

College and SSDI

Generally, college won’t have any impact on your SSDI benefits -- but there are other things that may relate to your college experience that will. For instance, the Social Security Administration defines a disability as a severe health condition that will last at least a year or result in death. A “severe” condition is one that limits your ability to walk, sit or remember information for long periods of time. If you are able to attend classes, do homework and keep up with the rigors of college, you may not be considered severely disabled and may lose your SSDI benefits.

Ticket to Work Program

The Social Security Administration believes in rehabilitation and wants to match blind and disabled people with jobs and education to become independent. The “Ticket to Work” program allows you to continue receiving benefits while you work, train for a new job or start your education. This program continues to pay benefits during a trial work period, and then reduces or removes your benefits when you become financially independent. However, it also will reinstate your benefits if you lose your job or your disability makes it difficult to work as often.

Earnings Limits

If you’ve taken a job at your college or an outside employer, you may lose SSDI benefits -- but only if you make over a certain amount of money each month. As of 2011, the limit is $1,000 a month if you are disabled and $1,640 a month if you are blind. If you’re using Social Security’s “Ticket to Work” program in order to get back into the workforce, you may still receive SSDI in the first nine months regardless of how much you earn.

If You Lose Your Benefits

If college attendance causes you to lose your SSDI, you’re not out of luck. Consider applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), an assistance program designed for disabled and low-income individuals. In fact, if you’re under 22 and in school on a regular basis, the Social Security Administration won’t count up to $1,640 of your monthly earnings when determining your SSI payment amount. You may also continue receiving Medicaid for your disability even if you’re not receiving SSDI or SSI.

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