Surrounded by a storm of letters, a man stands on an open letter as he reads its contents.

SSDI’s Trial Work Period

One day, I received a letter from Social Security Disability and tucked away deep inside the envelope was a brochure concerning what they deemed a Trial Work Period or TWP. The initial time I received one of these brochures, I kind of scoffed and chuckled as I put the item in File 13.

After treatment, I wanted to get back to work

As my treatment for advanced prostate cancer with extensive bone metastasis stage IV continued and I moved away from my chemotherapy infusions my body slowly recovered.

During this break from treatment, I began to ponder about the possibility that one day I might return to work. I will state officially at this point I took those thoughts with a healthy grain of salt.

However, I did begin to look up facts concerning the Trial Work Period. A quick search through my papers proved futile as apparently I had committed my only copy to File 13.

What is the Trial Work Period?

Shortly after that search, I took my question to the internet as most people do these days. The TWP is part of what SSDI calls "Social Security Work Incentives". This program gives you a chance to test run your ability to return to work. The initial trial period runs for nine months during which you will still, believe it or not, receive your full SSDI benefits. These benefits will also include your Medicare Insurance.

Another advantage is the fact that the nine months do not have to be consecutive work months. The months just have to take place with a five year period. This is what they refer to as a "60-month rolling period".

My hesitation to return to work

If you are like me, and I figure most of you are, you will be nervous about attempting to return to work. I was very, very concerned about making my attempt to return to employment. Could I really return to work and be a productive member of our particular business.

And it has taken me years to get these SSDI programs and other programs set up for me and my family. During my many calls to the SSDI Office, I was assured that at any point in the nine-month period I could not continue my employment, I would/could return to SSDI without penalty.

Be mindful of earned income

A lot of this incentive is based on your income earned within a month minus taxes. The total amount you are allowed to earn has increased from $880 (or a total of 80 hours of self-employment in a month) in 2019 up to $910 in 2020.

If you happen to work over the threshold of $910 a month, then that particular month will be counted as a "service month" along with being counted toward your TWP. I was concerned about this part of the incentive, as I am an educator/coach and we do not earn any income near the end of June, the entire month of July, nor any of the first couple weeks of August.

Next we'll discuss the Extended Period of Eligibility

In our next installment of this series, we will take a closer look into what is called the "36 month of Extended Period of Eligibility" or "EPE". It is critical you gain a clear understanding of this aspect of the incentive and the term substantial gainful activity (SGA).

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