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Understanding Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWE)
When you suffer from a disability, you sometimes need assistance to help make your life manageable. Often, this assistance might come in the form of goods or services that you have to pay for out of your own pocket. Whether the items in question are hearing aids, orthopedic shoes, physical therapy, or some other expense, paying for these things can make it even more difficult to make ends meet on your own without the assistance of your SSDI benefits. But what happens when you are able to manage your disability to the point where you can work at least a little bit? The last thing you need to do is to be penalized by the SSA by losing your SSDI benefits altogether.
There’s good news, though: These goods and services might, in fact, qualify as what are known as IRWE, or Impairment Related Work Expenses. If you aren’t familiar with this term yet, make sure you read on to learn more, as understanding Impairment Related Work Expenses could make an impact on your ability to receive SSDI benefits.
As you may know, your benefits are determined by many factors. One important factor — probably the most — is whether or not you are able to perform any work at all. If so, the SSA has determined that you have to make below a specific threshold, known as Substantial Gainful Activity, to maintain your benefits. Because of this, you can only make so much money per month (in 2017, that limit is set at $1170) before you lose benefits. This meager amount of money isn’t enough to pay the bills in many households, which means that if you are collecting SSDI benefits while trying to work, earning too much money could actually hurt you!
Thankfully, the SSA recognizes this and offers substantial gainful activity disability assistance in the form of IRWE. How does this work? Basically, what it means is that the money you pay out of pocket for these items to help make your life manageable can be deducted from the amount used towards your SGA limit. So, if you have to buy a hearing aid, for example, you can actually deduct the cost of that hearing aid from your income for the month. In other words, when the SSA looks at your income to determine if you are making over the SGA threshold, the money spent on the hearing aid won’t count. The result? You won’t be penalized, essentially, for making your life and your situation a little easier.
For those who are willing and able to work at least a little, but still need SSDI benefits to make it from month to month, Impairment related work expenses are a necessity. It’s good to know that the SSA recognizes this, and has set this up so that you are not penalized for trying to work. If you would like to learn more about IRWE, what you can claim, or how to use it to your advantage, please contact us today.