So many government programs are shrouded in mystery. Reams of regulations that ordinary people can’t understand may have a big impact on your life. For example, if you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you may have heard of something called the Trial Work Period. However, unless you talk to someone or do a lot of online research, you may be left wondering what it is and how it can help you. In this article, we will help you take the mystery out of the trial work period offered to SSDI recipients. You may be surprised at what you learn.
Trial Work Period 101
Think of the trial work period as a test of the SSDI recipient’s ability to return to work. Going from disabled to functioning 100% as a full-time employee may be difficult or even impossible for some people. However, if someone wants to try returning to work, they can do so without losing their SSDI benefits.
Month of Services Designation
The amount a worker earns during a month determines whether it is a ‘month of services.’ The current monthly earnings amount set by the Social Security Administration (SSA) is $880. The calculation is slightly different for self-employed workers.
For example, if Jay K. makes $600 in May and $900 in June, only June will be counted as a month of service. However, maybe Jay also worked a little bit in 2017 and 2018. The limits were $840 for 2017 and $850 for 2018. So, if Jay earned $860 in May 2017 and $870 in May 2018, both months typically would count as a month of service.
Activities That Count as Services
The SSA defines services as “any activity (whether legal or illegal) . . . which is done in employment or self-employment for pay or profit, or is the kind normally done for pay or profit.” However, certain kinds of volunteer work, or work done during therapy or training, are not considered ‘services.’
Effect on SSDI Benefits
Usually, the worker still receives SSDI payments during the trial work period. Payments typically stop if the worker’s medical condition improves to the point of no longer being disabled.
Otherwise, the worker still may be considered disabled and eligible for SSDI until he or she has worked at least nine months during a 60-month period. The nine months can happen at any time during that period and do not have to be performed consecutively.
Need Help Applying for Benefits or Understanding the Trial Work Period?
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Taller have more than 50 years’ legal experience, much of it involving Social Security Disability Insurance claims. They can help you with your application and any appeals that might be needed.
Call us at 714-385-8100 for a free consultation. Though our office is located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.