Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE)
The EPE begins the month after the TWP ends, even if you are not working that month. The first 36 months of the EPE is the re-entitlement period. The EPE allows you to resume receiving benefits if you are not working during the re-entitlement period. During the 36 month re-entitlement period, benefits are paid for months your earnings (or work activities) are below the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level as long as you continue to have a disabling impairment. Benefits are suspended for months your earnings are over the SGA level.
SSA will restart your benefits within the re-entitlement period if your earnings fall below the SGA level. A new application and/or disability determination is not required to start your benefits again. (This is a different rule than Expedited Reinstatement (EXR) that is described in a separate section on Expedited Reinstatement.) If SSA finds you worked above SGA in the EPE for the first time and are continuing to engage in SGA, they will pay for the first month your benefits stop due to SGA and the following 2 months. This is referred to as the grace period. If your earnings fall below SGA and are you are still in the 36-month re-entitlement period, SSA can reinstate your benefits without a new application.
If you are not working above SGA and are eligible for a benefit payment for the 37th month, you will continue to be eligible for benefits until you:
Your benefits will end if you work above SGA after the 36-month re-entitlement period. However you may be able to start your benefits again if you stop work within the next 5 years.
The 2021 SGA levels are $1,310.00 per month for non-visually impaired recipients and $2,190.00 per month for visually impaired recipients. The EPE applies only to individuals who receive SSDI cash benefits.
For a complete explanation go to SSA Online and view the Redbook section or contact your local WSC WIPA Benefits Planner 1-(855)-886-5123.