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If you are receiving disability benefits and want to test your ability to return to work, you are in luck. The Social Security Administration recognizes that returning to work is easier said than done. The trial work period (TWP) allows individuals that already receive benefits a chance to return to work without fear of their benefits ending.
The TWP allows you to work for 9 months without benefit interruption within a consecutive 60 month period after you begin receiving benefits. These 9 months do not need to be consecutive and if your earnings rise above a certain amount, then that month will be considered a TWP month. In 2014, the TWP amount is $770. This means, for any given month that you make $770 or more you will be using one of your 9 months.
The following 36 months after your TWP, your benefits will continue as long as your monthly income does not rise above what SSA considers to be substantial gainful activity (SGA). In 2014, the SGA limit is $1070 gross monthly income. For any month that your income rises above the current SGA limit, benefits will not be payable for that month. These 36 months are referred to as an extended period of eligibility.
Once your TWP and extended period of eligibility has ended, your benefits will stop if you continue to work above the current SGA limit. Fortunately, during the following five years you may ask for your benefits to be reinstated if you discontinue working due to your medical conditions. This process is called an expedited reinstatement of benefits.
If you decide to try working again, keeping the Administration “in the loop” is imperative. Any time you begin working, you should contact your local SSA office. You should be prepared to give your start date, the hours and duties of your position, the rate in which you will be paid and any impairment-related work expenses that you are not reimbursed. If your work changes at any time or if your employer provides accommodations for you, you should contact SSA immediately.
If you are considering a return to the workforce or have already begun working and are seeking additional information on a trial work period, contact us at 1-877-526-3457. A representative will be more than happy to answer your questions!
Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law