Giving Work A Try: What To Know About The Trial Work Period

If you have been approved for Social Security disability benefits, you are likely well-aware that you cannot return back to work at your same job and that you can only earn so much money and still get benefits. While these stringent guidelines are meant to prevent fraud, there is a Social Security program that offers those who wish to "try out" a return to work. Read on to learn more about the Trial Work Period (TWP)

Income Limits

The Social Security Administration (SSA) reasons that if you are able to earn a certain amount of income, you should not be collecting disability benefits. You can earn some income, however, but the SSA limits the amount to $1,170 per month ($1,950 for the blind). The SSA refers to the amount of money you can earn as Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), and if you exceed the income limits, you risk losing your SSA benefits. That is where the Trial Work Period comes in.

The Trial Work Period

The good news is that if you participate in this SSA program, you can earn an unlimited amount of money. You are, however, limited by the number of months you can do so.

What to Know:

  • You will continue to be eligible for your regular Social Security monthly payments, even while are earning an unlimited amount of income.
  • You can only participate in the TWP for 9 out of 60 months (that's 9 months in 5 years).
  • The months do not have to consecutive.
  • As long as your income stays below $840, you will not be considered to be in a TWP month.

You can claim certain deductions that will reduce your income, thus allowing you to stay out of TWP if desired. These deductions can include work-related necessities, like work boots or transportation. Why would anyone want to prevent being in a TWP for a certain month? Many people take full advantage of this opportunity to work at certain jobs when they are assured that their earnings will be extra high, thus taking the best advantage of the benefit. A good example could be people who work seasonally, such as farm workers or holiday retail positions.

What to Watch Out For:

You should know that income is not the only limit to be aware of. The SSA also keeps a close watch on the type of work you are doing to earn that money, whether you are participating in the TWP or not. For example, if your reported income is coming from a job where you are essentially performing the same tasks that you claimed to be unable to do to get benefits in the first place, you could be placing your benefits at risk.

If you have been denied benefits or your ability to receive benefits is at risk, contact a Social Security attorney such as those found at Duncan Disability Law SC.