People I meet for the first time often want to know what will happen if they go back to work. They say they worry because they don't want to hurt their case. Here's my view: You do what you want or need to do. If I take your case, I know you can't work and won't be able to work on a continuous and sustained basis for a very long time. There are a couple of things about what they are really asking me. 1) Money. People need it. It may not buy happiness, but I can tell you that people who live in boxes are way less happy than those who live in sheltered, climate controlled. environments. People do what they need to do to survive. If I've agreed to take the case, I know they will not be able to earn more than $1,000 per month gross in a competitive work force. So, fine, if the client wants to work, great. I know they will fail. But, if it turns out I'm wrong, they are way better off working than being on disability because it pays better. If I'm right (and I've not been wrong yet) they will fail and that is great evidence to prove the client can't work - which is all I care about. Frequently, clients who make that choice even get worse - sucks for them; great for me; makes my job easier the worse they get. (I sometimes feel like a vulture circling my clients - happily, they don't see it that way.) 2) No one wants to be disabled. Most people have a very hard time choosing to stop working. They have defined themselves by what they do - which is work. All of a sudden, they can't be doing that any more. So then what? Who are they? They want to go back to work to prove to themselves that they really are who they think they are; because, the alternative of being something else is overwhelming. So sure, try. But if you fail, it won't hurt your case- it could wreck your health worse than it already is - but, it's Ok.
An Unsuccessful Work Attempt means that you have tried, failed, tried again and failed again to go back to work. Hard as it may be to believe, the law actually reflects reality. People need money. People want to work. But sometimes, they just can't. A period more than 30 days, but less than 6 months will not be considered "work" for purposes of the Social Security Act.
Reality If you are reading this you know at a minimum you (or someone you care about) are heading to the end of your present career, whatever it is. But, that doesn't mean you have to roll over, give up and live an unfulfilling life. California Vocational Rehabilitation is there to help retrain you to go back into the competitive work force. There are many part-time opportunities, some pay, some don't, that are out there and will get you into the community without killing yourself. When you accept your limitations, you embrace reality. Do your family a favor, if they tell you to sit down and use a wheel chair in the Mall, do it. Their lives are tough enough without you dragging them back. Don't drain them just because you don't want to "look disabled."