With the rising cost of expenses, not everyone can support themselves on their monthly disability benefits alone. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) understands this and allows those receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments to reenter the workforce without losing their benefits. There are limitations, though, and you risk losing your SSDI payments if you don’t follow them.
Qualifying for SSDI
The idea behind the SSDI is that an individual who has a disability or severe injury is unable to work and pay for their basic expenses. Before you can receive disability payments, you will have to show that your condition will last at least a year or for the rest of your life.
People who rely on SSDI, however, may learn that the benefits are not enough to cover their expenses or that they simply miss working. If you want to work without losing your SSDI benefits, you may take advantage of the SSDI’s trial work period (TWP).
How does the trial work period work?
The TWP allows SSDI beneficiaries test their suitability for work. No matter how much money you earn during the TWP, you can still receive disability payments.
A trial work period lasts for nine months, and you are allowed only one TWP during a five-year period. However, you can spread out those months across five years instead of working 9 months in a row. Any months you have left over after five years will expire.
Starting the trial work period
There is no need to enroll in a TWP. The SSA expects you to report your wages or any self-employment activity as part of your SSDI requirements.
Once you start working and earn over $1070 per month (the earnings threshold for 2023) or work more than 80 hours per month in self-employment, the SSA will consider it a TWP work month.
Once your TWP ends, the Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE) begins and will last for 36 months. If you start earning above the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level, you may lose your SSDI benefits.
There are many other ways your disability payments could end. For instance, working over 15–20 hours a week may raise questions about your inability to work. A disability attorney may guide you on the best ways to keep working while qualifying for SSDI payments.