Unsuccessful Work Attempts

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A common misconception is that the onset date is the date the applicant stops working. If an individual works after the Alleged Onset Date (AOD), it may be due to an unsuccessful work attempt (UWA). A UWA is a short three to six month period where an applicant attempts to work, but an impairment forces them to reduce their output below a substantial gainful activity (SGA) level or to stop working entirely.

Work performed during this period will not disqualify an applicant from receiving disability benefits even if they earn at a substantial gainful activity (SGA) level ($1,040, before taxes, per month in 2013) during the UWA period.

Conditions that Can Cause UWA

UWAs occur after a significant break from initial employment as a way to attempt to continue working despite a disability. Work that takes place directly or shortly after an initial break in employment does not count as a UWA. Individuals generally must have either stopped working for at least 30 days, changed their type of employment, or changed their employer due to an impairment. A circumstance where a period of work can be considered a UWA without taking a significant break in employment can occur when special conditions that aided applicant’s ability to perform work despite their disability are removed and as result cause their earnings to fall below the SGA level.

Examples of such special conditions may include:

  • Specialized equipment
  • Additional assistance
  • Custom timeframes which work may completed
  • Unusual or special work hours
  • Decreased standards or work or quality
  • Other aides which were provided due to the applicant’s impairment

How Long Was the UWA?

The length of time that the work lasted impacts the SSA’s decision to consider it an unsuccessful attempt:

  • Three months or less – If the applicant worked for three months or less, and their impairment, or the removal of special conditions that allowed work despite the impairment, forces them to stop working or to reduce their hours so that earnings fall below a SGA, then the work can be considered an unsuccessful employment attempt.
  • Three to six months – In addition to the above requirements, applicants who worked between three to six months must prove that they: frequently missed work due to their impairment, worked at an unsatisfactory standard due to their impairment, worked while the condition was temporarily improving, or worked prior to special conditions enabling employment were removed.
  • Six months or longer – Work that lasts longer than six months at a SGA level will not be considered an unsuccessful work attempt. If an impairment causes the applicant to reduce the amount of work performed just before the 6 month period is up so that earnings fall below the SGA threshold, then that work attempt can be considered unsuccessful if it extended beyond six months as long as work earnings stayed below a SGA level ($1,040 per month) for the duration of the work attempt.

If you would like to discuss your SSD can and unsuccessful work attempt with The Trial Professionals P.A., we are ready to listen. Our Orlando Social Security Disability lawyers have 100+ years of collective experience and are here to guide you through this time.

Set up an initial consultation when you call (855) 375-9959. We work on a contingency fee basis.

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