The SSDI Trial Work Period text overlay with stressed injured woman by a desk in the background

If you’re struggling with a disability and contemplating a return to work, you’re not alone, as the uncertainty can feel enormous. Can you manage your health and the responsibilities of a job? Will attempting to work affect your disability benefits? These are valid concerns, and it’s natural to worry. This blog is dedicated to helping you understand the SSDI Trial Work Period – an option designed to help people like you explore their capacity to work while ensuring their financial security.

Over the course of this blog, our New York Social Security disability attorneys will unpack this complex concept, shed light on its aspects, and hopefully provide you with some peace of mind. You have the right to explore your potential after a debilitating injury or illness without the fear of losing your benefits. You are more than your disability, and understanding the SSDI Trial Work Period can be a powerful tool in navigating your future.

What Is the SSDI Trial Work Period?

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Trial Work Period (TWP) is a nine-month window provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to SSDI recipients. Its purpose is to offer people with disabilities the chance to assess their ability to work without jeopardizing their SSDI benefits.

Here’s how it works: you can earn as much income as possible during these nine months over a rolling, 60-month period. (These nine months don’t have to be consecutive.) No matter how much you earn during this time, it will not affect your SSDI benefits. It’s like a safety net, allowing you to explore your work capacity while keeping your benefits intact.

It’s important to remember that the SSA doesn’t consider any month where your gross earnings are below a certain amount (which can change from year to year) as part of your TWP. But don’t worry; if your earnings exceed the limit, you keep your benefits during the TWP.

Do You Lose Your Benefits During the Trial Work Period?

Absolutely not! This is one of the biggest misunderstandings about the TWP, and it can cause a lot of worry. The TWP is explicitly designed to encourage you to attempt returning to work without immediately affecting your SSDI benefits. The aim is to enable you to assess your work capacity while maintaining SSDI security. For those nine months, you can earn an income and still receive your full disability benefits.

That’s why the TWP is such a valuable tool. It acknowledges the uniqueness of each situation, allowing you to explore potential without fearing financial loss.

Can I Have Multiple Trial Work Periods?

stressed injured construction worker in new york going through the ssdi trial work periodEach person who receives Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits is allowed a single TWP, which consists of nine months within a rolling 60-month, or five-year, period.

Here’s what that means: your nine trial work months can occur anytime within a span of 60 months. These months don’t need to be consecutive. For example, you could work over the limit in January and February, take a break, and then work again in June, and all three months would count as part of your TWP.

Once you’ve used all nine trial work months, you’ve completed your TWP. After that, if you continue to work and earn over a certain limit, your SSDI benefits may be affected. This is called the Extended Period of Eligibility, a separate phase that follows the TWP.

What Happens During the Extended Period of Eligibility?

The Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE) lasts for 36 consecutive months immediately following the completion of your TWP. During this period, you can receive your full SSDI benefits for any month where your earnings fall below the “Substantial Gainful Activity” (SGA) level, a threshold set by the SSA. The SGA amount can change from year to year.

Here’s what’s important to know: If your earnings are above the SGA in any month during the EPE, you won’t be eligible for SSDI benefits for that month. But, if your earnings fall below the SGA in a later month, you can receive benefits for that month. It’s like an on-and-off switch based on your income each month.

Working with an experienced attorney is crucial due to the TWP’s complex rules and significant SSDI impact. Call the experienced disability lawyers from Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C. at 516-496-0400 today or complete our online form for a free consultation.

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Last Updated : October 4, 2023
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