Trial Work Period

The trial work period allows you to work for at least 9 months. During your trial work period, you will receive your full Social Security disability benefits. It does not matter how high your earnings are as long as you are still disabled. You must report your return to work to Social Security.

The trial work period starts with the first month you earn over the limits shown in the chart below. However, your trial work period cannot start earlier than the first month you are paid disability benefits. If the date you applied for disability benefits is later than the first month you are paid disability benefits, then your trial work period cannot start earlier than the date you filed for disability benefits.

You must always report a return to work or an increase in the amount you earn to Social Security. The law requires they give you a receipt when you report a return to work or an increase in earnings. Make sure you get your receipt. You may need it to prove you reported your return to work or your increase in earnings.

 

Year

Monthly earnings that start a trial work period for an employee

Monthly earnings or hours worked to start a trial work period for a self-employed individual.

1979-1989

$75

$75 or 15 hours*

1990-2000

$200

$200 or 40 hours*

2001

$530

$530 or 80 hours*

2002

$560

$560 or 80 hours*

2003

$570

$570 or 80 hours*

2004

$580

$580 or 80 hours*

2005

$590

$590 or 80 hours*

2006

$620

$620 or 80 hours*

2007

$640

$640 or 80 hours*

2008

$670

$670 or 80 hours*

2009

$700

$700 or 80 hours*

   2010 & 2011

                                        $720

$720 or 80 hours*

* Self employed individuals are also limited by the number of hours they work per month.

Examples:

  • You file your disability application on 6/1/2008. Your benefits begin 11/2008. Your trial work period cannot start earlier than 11/2008.
  • You file your disability application on 6/1/2008. Social Security pays you benefits back to 6/1/2007. Your trial work period cannot start earlier than 6/1/2008.

The trial work period continues until you work 9 months (not necessarily in a row) in which you earn over the amount shown in the chart above within a rolling 60 month period.

Example:

You return to work in July 2002. A five-year rolling period would be considered as  July 2002 through June 2007.You earn over the trial work period monthly amount for the months July 2002, August 2002 and September 2002. You stop work. You only used three trial work period months. If you return to work in July 2008, you can no longer count the three trial work period months of July 2002, August 2002 and September 2002 as a trial work period month because it is not in a rolling five-year period. Therefore, as of July 2008, you have used no trial work period months and you start over with trial work month number one.

A TWP does not apply to the Supplemental Security Income program.



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