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A real life example of an unsuccessful work attempt may help to illustrate why this topic is so important. This example is one of my cases that is currently pending in Maine at the Reconsideration level.

This claim has an alleged onset date of 10/20/2006. However, from 5/18/2007 – 9/18/2007 this claimant returned to work part-time, and earned good money (well above the level of SGA) for 4 months. But the work became too much for him, and he had to stop. He subsequently filed a claim for Social Security disability benefits, which is now pending.

So there it is: 4 months of work above the level of SGA, smack in the middle of the disability period. As a result, there is not a 12 month disability period, as required. If there were not an exception for an unsuccessful work attempt, the claim would either have to be denied at Step 1 of the sequential evaluation process, or a new onset date of 9/19/2007 (after the 4 months of work) would be used.

However, with the UWA, the 4 months of work is excused. The disability period will run from the original onset date of 10/20/2007. This results in an additional 9 months of retroactive benefits. At a PIA of $1,340, that’s another $12,060 in benefits due the claimant.