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Unsuccessful Work Attempt

An unsuccessful work attempt, for Social Security Disability purposes, is an attempt on your part to perform work which fails because of your disability or a lack of appropriate accommodations for your disabling condition. You may be on the job for as long as six months and still have the work period deemed an unsuccessful work period.

While returning successfully to work during the disability period (unless you had been off work more than a year prior to returning to work) will almost certainly disqualify you from collecting Social Security Disability benefits, an unsuccessful work attempt will not generally have any negative bearing on your Social Security Disability claim. In fact, having made an unsuccessful work attempt may actually help you make your case that you are, indeed, disabled and unable to return to work.

In such cases, having made the unsuccessful work attempt shows that you have made an effort to return to work and were unable to perform satisfactorily due to your disability. In determining whether an attempt to work can be classified as an unsuccessful work attempt, the Social Security Disability adjudicators consider four things:

  • Did your disability cause you to have absences from work?
  • Did your disability cause your performance on the job to be unacceptable?
  • Was your ability to work based on a temporary remission of your condition which has sense worsened?
  • Was your work performed under special conditions which are no longer available for one reason or another?

You may also be deemed to have an unsuccessful work attempt if you are able to perform, but your disability hinders you from working enough to raise your income above the level the SSA sets for Substantial Gainful Employment. This amount changes on an annual basis, and was set at $1,130/month as of 2016. Earning less than this amount will not generally disqualify you from receiving disability benefits.