The Basics of Returning to Work with SSDI
The Social Security Trial Work Period ssdi: Will my disability benefits continue if I return to work?
You may be able to return to work and still be entitled to benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) encourages individuals with disabilities to return to work. Therefore, it allows for a trial work period ssdi which offers individuals the chance to try returning to work without fear of losing their benefits. A trial work period ssdi is essentially a means for an individual to test their ability to return to work, without any negative consequence to their disability benefits.
The trial work period ssdi lasts for up to nine months during a five-year period. These nine months do not need to be consecutive and can occur at any time within the five years. Normally, if an individual returns to work, they would no longer be viewed as disabled. But, work done during the trial work period ssdi is not considered by SSA when determining if an individual is still disabled.
Earnings and the Trial Work Period ssdi
How much can I earn before the trial work period ssdi is initiated?
A specific threshold amount, updated each year as stated in 20 CFR 404.1592, triggers the trial work period ssdi. For instance, in 2019, one could earn up to $880 a month. In 2020, the amount rose to $910 monthly. Even without actual income, if the work or services you perform are usually done for profit, then that work activity counts towards the trial work period ssdi threshold. For the self-employed, SSA evaluates your monthly net earnings to see if they meet the trial work period ssdi threshold.
Potential Impacts on Benefits: What could halt my benefits?
What if I work over nine months, exceeding the threshold in a five-year period? If you surpass the threshold for more than nine months in a five-year window, then your trial work period ssdi months are exhausted. SSA then examines if your earnings post these nine months amount to Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). In 2020, SGA is seen as earnings over $1,260 a month. If earnings go beyond what’s deemed SGA for at least one month after your trial work period ssdi, you may no longer be seen as disabled, causing your benefits to cease.
Benefits can also end if your disability stops for reasons other than returning to work, such as medical recovery. After the trial work period ssdi concludes, SSA provides an extended eligibility period for benefits. This extended phase lasts 36 months, termed the re-entitlement period. If earnings exceed the SGA after the trial work period ssdi ends, benefits stop three months post the trial work period ssdi. If earnings don’t surpass SGA, disability benefits continue during the re-entitlement period and indefinitely until earnings exceed the SGA.
Commencement and Applicability of the Trial Work Period ssdi
When does the trial work period ssdi commence?
Work prior to when you filed your claim for Social Security disability benefits isn’t part of the trial work period ssdi. Work done before entitlement to benefits also doesn’t count toward the trial work period ssdi. Thus, the trial work period ssdi starts from when you file your benefits claim or from your entitlement date if it’s post-filing.
When does a trial work period ssdi NOT apply?
A trial work period ssdi doesn’t apply if you aren’t entitled to disability insurance benefits or under Title II of the Social Security Act. So, trial work period ssdi doesn’t apply in these situations:
- If benefits are under title XVI of the Social Security Act.
- Work within 12 months of disability onset and before a disability decision is made.
- Returning to work 12 months post disability onset, prior to benefits adjudication, and before receiving any disability benefits. Before considering trial work period ssdi eligibility, the administrative law judge must decide on disability benefits.
Determining Disability & The Trial Work Period ssdi
For disability claims, one must prove they can’t engage in any substantial gainful activity due to a medically valid physical or mental impairment lasting at least 12 continuous months. Thus, this 12-month requirement and benefits entitlement are initial evaluations. Once disability benefits are determined, a trial work period ssdi can commence for any work post the initial 12 months from disability onset. It’s crucial to note work during the trial work period ssdi isn’t held against you.
However, work in the first 12 months post-disability onset will be examined when determining disability and entitlement to benefits since it’s outside the trial work period ssdi.
Any work exceeding substantial gainful activity levels has consequences for disability determination and continued disability benefits. This topic is covered in another article.
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits with LaBovick Law Group
If disability hinders your work capability, applying for social security disability is likely your best option. At the LaBovick Law Group, our experienced Social Security Disability Lawyers offer free consultations to evaluate your case. Contact us at (561) 623-3681 for a complimentary review.
FAQs on Social Security Trial Work Period SSDI
What exactly is the trial work period ssdi?
The trial work period ssdi is a provision by SSA allowing disability beneficiaries to attempt returning to work without jeopardizing their benefits for up to nine months within a five-year period.
How often can I use the trial work period ssdi?
You can utilize the trial work period ssdi once in a span of five years, but the nine months do not need to be consecutive.
If I exceed the trial work period ssdi, does that mean I’ll lose my benefits immediately?
Not immediately. After the trial work period ssdi, there’s a 36-month extended period where benefits might continue based on earnings.
Can I apply for the trial work period ssdi if I’m on other SSA benefits?
The trial work period ssdi is specifically for those on disability insurance benefits under Title II. Other benefits, like those under Title XVI, are not eligible.