Disability benefit recipients may benefit from trial work period

by Sep 1, 2016

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While having a disabling medical condition can certainly put a person in Tennessee out of commission and out of work for an extended period of time, there may be circumstances in which the recipient’s health begins to improve. When this happens, those receiving Social Security disability benefits may want to try to head back to work. However, they may worry that despite their desire to work, they may not be able to do so after all, after having tried it for a period of time, and that they will have to start the disability benefits process all over again.

Fortunately, the Social Security Administration gives recipients the ability to try to go back to work, while still receiving benefits, at least for a period of time. This is known as a trial work period. It can last for nine months, during which the recipient will continue to receive their full disability benefits, no matter how much income they are earning while working. In 2016, if an individual makes more than $810 in a month, this will be deemed by the SSA to be a trial work month. If a recipient is self-employed, than a trial work month consists of those months in which the recipient works for over 80 hours. The nine-month trial work period need not be consecutive, but must occur within a timeframe of 60 months.


Moreover, once the trial work period ends, for the next 36 months, if the recipient’s income falls below the SSA’s substantial gainful activity threshold in any given month, the recipient can receive benefits for that month. In addition, if an individual no longer receives disability benefits because they earn above the substantial gainful activity limit, that individual has up to five years to get his or her disability benefits reinstated if it turns out that he or she is unable to work after all.


These safeguards are in place to allow disability benefit recipients to try to head back into the workplace if they so choose, without immediately compromising their ability to receive payments. Being able to return to work can be extremely beneficial to recipients on a personal level, making a trial work period exactly the chance they need to determine whether this is possible.

Source: The Motley Fool, “Can You Work While Receiving Social Security Disability?,” Maurie Backman, May 16, 2016