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Understanding Trial Work Periods

Understanding Trial Work Periods

Finding a job can be tough, especially if you’re trying to re-enter the workforce after suffering an injury, dealing with a medical condition, or recovering from a debilitating illness. If you or your loved one is a recipient of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and recently suffered a personal injury or is recovering from a medical condition, you may benefit from Social Security Work Incentives, such as a Trial Work Period.

What is a Trial Work Period?

A Trial Work Period (TWP) gives SSDI recipients the opportunity to test their ability to work again for a period of 9 months. A TWP does not have to be completed in 9 consecutive months, so you can test your working abilities until you reach 9 total “service” months. During this trial period, individuals may seek re-entry into the workforce while continuing to receive complete SSDI payments and other benefits. You can test your physical abilities, seek employment opportunities, and transition back into the workforce without jeopardizing your eligibility for benefits.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) determines whether the work you perform will be counted toward your Trial Work Period by examining the income you earn therefrom. Working for a certain number of hours as a self-employed individual may also count toward a TWP under certain circumstances. Specifically, the SSA considers 80 hours of self-employment as a service month. If you’re uncertain about whether your job is counting toward a Trial Work Period or interfering with your entitlement to SSDI, get in touch with a member of our team.

What’s the Difference between Substantially Gainful Activity and a Trial Work Period?

Whether a job will be considered substantially gainful activity (SGA) by the SSA depends on a person’s disability and the amount of monthly income they earn. It’s important to note that substantially gainful activity wouldn’t be counted against someone’s SSDI eligibility until after the expiration of their Trial Work Period. Specifically, the SSA would reconsider one’s entitlement to disability benefits while they are seeking financial independence.

What Happens after Your Trial Work Period?

Once you’ve completed your Trial Work Period, you enter a 36-month Extended Period of Eligibility. During this time, the SSA will evaluate your work, how much you’ve earned, and whether you engaged in any SGA. You will continue to receive SSDI benefits during months where your earnings are lower than SGA requirements due to a disability. If you begin earning more than the SGA requirements and lose your benefits, however, you are protected for five years under the expedited reinstatement (i.e., a safety net that allows you to avoid having to submit a whole new application to get your benefits reinstated if you suddenly need to stop work or something happens within five years of your benefits stopping).

It can be hard to find a job and re-enter the workforce, especially after suffering a disability. It’s important to understand how you can further benefit from Social Security Work Incentives and your option to explore employment through a Trial Work Period. A knowledgeable lawyer from Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, can help guide you through the process. Contact our attorneys today to make sure you’re able to get back to work and that your SSDI benefits are protected in the process.

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Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law

Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law
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