Definition of Trial Work Period
The Social Security Administration wants to encourage workers currently receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to return to work if they are able. With this goal in mind, they have created the trial work period to allow workers to attempt to return to full-time employment for nine months within a 60-month period of time without jeopardizing their SSDI benefits.
So how does the trial work period work? SSDI claimants can return to work, but if they earn $750 per month (in 2013) they will trigger a trial work period. Months you work less than the limit do not count towards the trial work period. The worker may have nine trial work months within a rolling 60 month period. Keep in mind the trial work months do not have to be consecutive.
At the end of your trial work period there is an extended period of eligibility, which means that although a claimant's benefits may have stopped after successfully completing the trial work period, benefits may be automatically reinstated without having to complete a new application for any months in which your earnings drop below the SGA level. According to the SSA, this reinstatement period lasts for 36 consecutive months following the end of the trial work period.
If you are considering returning to work, talk to the SSA and make sure you understand trial work and how it can affect your SSDI benefits.
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