Social Security Forms SSA-821 (Work Activity Report) and 820 (Self-Employed Work Activity Report): Part 2 of 2
Likewise, many disability claimants find, after going out of work for a period of time, that they are able to make an attempt at a return to work on either a full or part-time basis. In such a circumstance SSA may need to see whether the work being performed following the return to work constitutes "substantial gainful activity" (SGA) and may likewise need to see whether there are certain accommodations being made as part of their return to work, as the Social Security regulations do provide for what are called "unsuccessful work attempts" (UWA's): these are returns to work that are short-lived and which may have ended as a result of their disabling condition or because certain accommodations that were being made so as to allow for the return to work had to be discontinued. UWA periods are not counted against a disability applicant in determining whether their severe medically determinable impairment is expected to last or has lasted 12 months or longer.
In order for SSA to give consideration for a potential UWA, they must see that there was a significant enough break in the continuity of one's employment where one was not earning SGA level earnings. Ordinarily, SSA will need to see that work has been reduced to below SGA levels for a period of at least 30 days in order for it to be considered "discontinued." Once one has established a "period of disability" in the sense that their work was discontinued for longer than 30 days, SSA will look to see, for any subsequent returns to work, whether the return to work constituted not only SGA level earnings, and if so, whether the SGA level earnings reduced below such levels within 3 months' time because of either one's medical condition or the removal of special conditions which took into account your impairment. A close look at the Work Activity Report will make clear that the form is laid out in such a way as to allow for details of such special condition made at work, such as the allowance for more frequent rest periods, for the production of work at a rate lower than other workers, or for irregular or fewer hours than other workers (as just one of a number of the many examples considered by the SSA). Assuming one's return to work lasts longer than 3 months, but reduced below SGA level within 6 months, SSA will still consider the return to work to be an UWA assuming during the period of time one returned to work there were frequent absences from work because of the disabling impairment, one's work was deemed unsatisfactory as a result of the impairment, the work was performed during what is considered to be a temporary remission of the condition, or the work had to be performed under special conditions, without which the work would not have been possible.
Having an experienced Social Security lawyer assist you with the Work Activity Report form can go a long way in ensuring that you are not missing valuable benefits: assuming the local SSA field office makes the wrong decision concerning a potential alleged onset date can make the difference not only as to how many months of back benefits will be payable but also whether benefits may be payable at all. If you or someone you care for or about is struggling through the Social Security disability process, invite them to contact our office at 1-800-773-8622 to see how we might be able to assist.