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Does SSA offer Trial Work Attempts?


Are there work incentives with Social Security Disability?

What about a Trial Work Period?

Social Security Work Incentives are options to enter, re-enter, or continue in employment for beneficiaries of SSDI. If you monthly income exceeds the $1470/m gross (also called “SGA”) starting in 2023, you cannot collect disability benefits unless you are taking part in one of these work incentive programs.

“Trial Work Period” allows for a return-to-work trial period, also called TWP. For this program, SSA allows you to attempt to return to working full-time, while still preserving eligibility for benefits. For the TWP, you are allowed nine months over a five-year period in which you can earn any amount of income and still receive your SSDI benefits. So this means the nine months can be consecutive, but they do not need to be consecutive, just spread out over a five-year period, or 60 months.

If you are going to attempt to try working again with TWP, any month where you make over $1050/m gross counts towards one of the nine months. So it is possible you have some months over or under SGA during the nine months and they count towards the nine months if over this lower number, regardless. If you are self-employed, working more than 80 hours in a month counts as TWP even if you don’t exceed the income threshold.

After you complete your TWP, you have Extended Period of Eligibility (also called EPE). This is a 36-month timeframe after TWP, where you will still receive benefits. The first time you work above SGA in EPE, you benefits will cease, and SSA will pay benefits for that current month and only two more, as a grace period. If your earnings fall below SGA and you are still in the EPE, SSA can restart your benefits without the need to reapply.

Note, if you return to work full-time, and complete the TWP, and stopped your benefits since you are working again full-time, if you need to stop working again for the same disability that you received benefits for previously, and it is within 5 years of when your benefits stopped, you can use Expedited Reinstatement (“EXR”) to have your benefits start again without the need for a new application.

Another helpful resource you can at SSA is the Ticket to Work Help Line: 866-968-7842