To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, you have to have a condition that prevents you from working. In addition, your work record helps determine whether you can get SSDI. Sometimes, though, a benefits recipient will start feeling better and want to try working again. When this happens, the individual may try a trial work period but worry about losing their benefits if it doesn’t work out. The Trial Work Period offered by the Social Security Administration may help.
How the Trial Work Period Works
The SSDI recipient can take advantage of the trial work period to test whether they can start working full time again. The worker can begin slowly to see if they are truly able to return to work. Disability payments typically continue during the trial work period unless the worker is no longer qualified based on his or her medical condition.
It’s important to understand the following terms to understand more about the trial work period.
Months of Service
A month in which the worker makes a certain amount of money is called a month of service. Workers may have 9 months of service in a disability period. However, these months do not have to be consecutive.
Example: Barry tries to return back to work, triggering a trial work period. He works for 4 months, then has to stop because his medical condition worsened. He only earned $850 for 3 of those months. Barry has used 3 of his trial work period months of service. He may try again during the next 5 years and use the remaining 6 months.
The Social Security Administration 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. “Services” does not include certain kinds of volunteer work, or work done during therapy or training.
Example: Linda worked as a registered nurse prior to becoming disabled due to lung disease. After 2 years of receiving SSDI payments, she wants to see if she can start working again. Linda attends retraining and therapy for 1 month, then volunteers for 1 month at a local nursing home. She wants to see if she has the stamina before taking a job. The training and volunteer work likely will not count against her trial work period.
In 2018, every month a worker makes at least $850 is a month of service. However, this amount is recalculated every year. In fact, the amount increases to $880 in 2019.
Example: Jason starts working part-time to test his ability to return to work. After 6 months, he is still not making $850 per month. None of the months he worked should count against his trial work period.
It’s Complicated. We Can Help with Social Security Disability Benefits.
If a person receiving disability payments successfully returns to work, an extended period of eligibility is triggered. This means you may be able to continue receiving at least partial disability payments for up to 36 months.
Understanding the Social Security Disability Insurance system is difficult. Fortunately, the attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Taller have helped many clients with Social Security Disability Insurance cases. For a free consultation, call us at 714-385-8100. Though our office is located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.