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What is the trial work period and how does it affect SSDI benefits?

Having a disability can take a toll on one’s mental and emotional well-being, especially for those who are accustomed to and love working. Ultimately, some individuals with disabilities decide to go back to the workforce. However, some may be hesitant to do so for fear that they will no longer receive benefits and later on find out that they cannot work the way they did before the disability.

Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) supports beneficiaries by providing work incentives to help them gain employment once again.

Testing the waters

One of the work incentives the SSA provides is a trial work period (TWP). This is for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients who want to check if they can fully go back to the workforce. With TWP, an individual with a disability can test their ability to work for up to nine months. The employment does not have to be in nine consecutive months but must be accumulated within a five-year period.

When does the period start running?

The nine-month trial period will start counting either:

  • When the employee starts meeting the monthly earning threshold or
  • When the self-employed beneficiary works for more than 80 hours

In 2023, the monthly earning threshold is at least $1,050.

Will I lose my SSDI benefits?

The main benefit of the TWP is that the recipient will continue receiving SSDI benefit payments, regardless of how much they earn during the trial period. It is, however, the responsibility of the recipient to continue following the SSA’s rules and consistently report work activity to the agency.

SSDI provides huge support for individuals suffering from disabilities, so it is understandable that they fear losing the same if they return to work. Understanding the SSA’s different work incentives can help recipients decide better for their future.