Feb 28

Social Security Disability Benefits and Trial Work Periods – Count Your Months!

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Collecting social security disability (SSD) benefits does not mean that you can never attempt to work again, and we know that working rather than receiving SSDI benefits is a far better choice for a multitude of reasons; financial, emotional, physical, etc. The Social Security Administration has several programs under which a beneficiary receiving Social Security Disability benefits may test his or her ability to work. This article will address one such program; the Trial Work Period (TWP). However, it is important to note that you are eligible for a Trial Work Period only after your five month waiting period or “date of entitlement.”

Under Social Security’s guidelines, the trial work period allows you to test your ability to work for at least nine months. During your trial work period, you will receive your full Social Security benefits regardless of how much you are earning as long as you report your work activity and you continue to have a disabling impairment. In 2012, a trial work month is any month in which your total earnings are over $720, or if you are self-employed, you earn more than $720 (after expenses) or work more than 80 hours in your own business. The trial work period continues until you have worked nine months within a 60-month period.

If your wages are under $720.00 per month, your benefit would not be affected and the month would not be counted in the nine month TWP. If your wages are over $720.00 per month, however, your benefits will still continue at the current rate but the month would be counted as part of the nine month TWP. For example, if you work every other month and earn $1,500.00 each month you work, you will use up all nine trial work months after eighteen months. Your benefits will continue if you stop working at that point or if you continue working but reduce your income to stay under the SGA guideline of $1,100.00.

As explained in last month’s blog article, the Social Security Administration considers monthly wages over $1,100.00 per month as substantial gainful activity (SGA). As long as you stay under the SGA amount, regardless of how many months you continue to work, your benefit will not end.

If you are receiving Medicare benefits when you begin the TWP, you will continue to receive that benefit without any lapse in coverage while you attempt to work. Please remember that it is always mandatory to report all work attempts to the Social Security Administration and although you have nine months to use up your TWP, they do not have to be consecutive but may be performed in a rolling 60-month period.


Don’t fight the Social Security Administration alone. If you or someone you know has been out of work or will likely be out of work for one year because of a disability, contact Attorney Matthew Noyes for a free case consultation. Attorney Noyes’ law firm — Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes — has been caring for clients since 1955. Contact them today!

  1. That’s what this blog is about is keeping it simple – and just letting everyone know more so they can make the best choices for their situation.

  2. Alecia Longsworth 21 Mar 2012 | reply

    The TWP would definitely benefit people with disability. It would enable them to test their ability beyond their impairment. They even get to keep their salary on the 9-month trial working period and collect their SSD, which is great news for them. It just shows that the government and the law support and take care of their people, especially those who are in need.

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