For many recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, there comes a time when they think about going back to work. But with that thought comes a number of questions – will I be able to work? If I can work, how long can I work for? Will I lose my benefits the moment I start working again? Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has a program in place to answer those questions.
What is the Trial Work Period?
The Trial Work Period is an incentive program offered by the SSA. Its purpose is to give SSDI recipients the ability to test the waters of returning to work, without compromising their benefits in the process. They get to try it out and see whether they’re truly up to the task, before committing to returning to work full time and forever. If you start working again and discover that you just can’t do it? No problem, you can simply stop working and return to your normal life.
How long does it last?
Every SSDI recipient has nine months they can use as the Trial Work Period. These are known as service months and they do not have to be consecutive. Additionally, if you work but do not earn at least a minimum amount ($940 in a month for 2021), that month does not count as a service month nor against your trial work period.
What happens to my benefits?
Nothing at all, while you’re in the Trial Work Period. You continue to receive your full benefit, regardless of how much money you earn. If you complete the entire Trial Work Period, and you continue to work afterward, the SSA will place you in an extended period of eligibility for three years. Your work and earnings will be regularly monitored and your benefits adjusted accordingly.