How a Trial Work Period Works
Many disabled individuals want to earn a living and try to reenter the workforce. The Social Security Administration (SSA) encourages these work attempts and allows claimants to work for a limited time on a trial basis to see if they can permanently transition to earned income without losing their benefits. If the claimant is not able to sustain a job during this time, he or she does not have to worry about permanently losing benefits if the attempt was unsuccessful.
The Phoenix Social Security Disability attorneys at Dayes Law Firm PC have decades of experience in helping claimants apply for and retain benefits. If you are having trouble with your benefits, contact us for a free, no obligation consultation.
Who is Eligible for a Trial Work Period?
To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income, a claimant must not be engaged in substantial gainful activity (SGA). The SSA defines SGA as earning more than a certain income, although in some situations other tests are used to determine whether a claimant is earning more than the SGA limit. In 2018, the SGA limit is $1,180 for disabled individuals and $1,970 for blind individuals. If a claimant earns more than this amount, he or she will lose disability benefits.
However, if a claimant’s medical condition has improved to the point where he or she can begin working and earning a living, he or she may be able to initiate a trial work period. During this period, a claimant can work while still being considered disabled and maintaining his or her disability benefits.
A trial work period is initiated when a claimant receives more than $850 in countable income. Not all income is counted, however. You may also have expenses that are deducted from your income amount that reduce your income, such as expenses you incur that relate directly to your disability.
Nine-Month Trial Period
The trial work period is nine months. These nine months do not have to be consecutive. They include all months in a rolling 60-month (5-year) period during which the claimant earned more than the trial work period limit.
A month will not count toward the trial work period if the claimant earned less than $850 in that month or if the claimant is self-employed and worked less than 80 hours in the month.
Throughout the trial work period, and throughout a claimant’s time receiving disability benefits, he or she is required to report his or her work activity, income and expenses to the SSA.
After the trial work period ends, the SSA will determine if the claimant engaged in SGA based on the income earned during this period. If he or she earned more than the SGA limit during any month in the trial work period, his or her benefits will end.
Claimants can only receive one trial work period every five years. However, the SSA uses a rolling five-year period, which means trial months that are more than five years old are no longer counted as part of your trial period.
Contact a Social Security Disability Lawyer
The Social Security Disability lawyers at Dayes Law Firm PC are experienced in helping individuals get and keep their disability benefits. If you are having trouble with your claim or benefits, do not hesitate to contact a disability benefits lawyer from our law firm, to learn more about how we can help you.
We will discuss your options during a free initial consultation. There is no risk and no obligation associated with speaking to one of our seasoned attorneys about your circumstances.