Back To Work: Understanding Social Security's Trial Work Period Rules

Social Security Disability benefits are provided to those who cannot work at their jobs because of a medical or mental health condition. Unfortunately, the amount of the benefit paid each month is surprisingly small. Many people want and need to earn extra income along with their Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). You may be able to do so if you abide by the rules so read on to learn more.

Tracking Income for SSDI

You are allowed to earn some income and still get your regular SSDI benefit. For 2019, you can earn up to $1,220 per month. It should be mentioned that you cannot earn that money by performing the same work you were doing when you became disabled. For example, if you were working in a job where you drove a truck for long distances when you became disabled, you cannot earn any money at all in a similar job after being approved for benefits. You must report all income you earn to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The Trial Work Period (TWP)

The SSA also provides recipients with another option for earning money and during certain periods of time you are allowed to earn unlimited income. The Trial Work Period (TWP) was created for applicants who felt well enough to work at some types of jobs and who needed the extra income. Again, the work performed must not be related to your previous job when you became disabled. The SSA reasons that many people want and need to be productive and this program provides that opportunity.

Observing the Time Limitations

The key to the TWP program is following the time limitations and they can be somewhat confusing. The time period that makes up the TWP is a rolling 60 month time period and during nine of those 60 months, you can earn unlimited funds. You can work for a few weeks and stop or a few months a year within the 60 month period. The time worked does not need to be consecutive. For example, many people seek work during the busy period leading up to the holidays. The TWP allows SSDI recipients to work for two or three months each year during the holidays and earn unlimited income.

When Problems Occur

Staying within the guidelines for the TWP might be challenging for some. If you have lost your benefits due to a misunderstanding or other issues, speak to a Social Security lawyer for help with an appeal.

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