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I like to write the client a letter at the end of the case saying that the case is over and that I am closing my file. Such a final letter marks the end of the attorney-client relationship.

I have added a few paragraphs to that final letter, to give the Title II disability client a heads up on the issue to trial work. Here is what I say:

If your condition improves, you may eventually return to work. However, you need to be careful about the amount you earn as you return to work, to maximize your benefits. Social Security wants you to be able to test your ability to work while still being considered disabled. You can earn up to $669 per month without affecting your Title II disability benefits.

However, if you earn $670 or more per month, that triggers a “trial work period.” You receive benefits during the trial work period, but after 9 months of trial work, Social Security can terminate your disability benefits if your income ever reaches the level of substantial gainful activity, which is $940 per month. The 9 months of trial work are not consecutive, so a month here and there with earnings over $669 may eventually add up to the 9 months. Be aware of this, and be careful with your earnings if you work part-time.

To avoid problems, let the local Social Security office know if you start to work. Keep track of the days worked, and keep your pay stubs. You should actually submit copies of the pay stubs to the local Social Security office, so there is no question about the amount of your earnings. Please plan your return to work with all this in mind.

This way, the client is not surprised down the road with a termination notice (or worse, an overpayment notice) when Social Security catches up with the earnings.