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What is the Social Security Administration's Trial Work Period?

It can be such a time-consuming process to qualify for disability payments that disabled persons might feel pressured not to venture back out into the workforce again if they start feeling like they might be able to work again. This is because they are afraid that working will disqualify them to receive disability. However, within the Social Security system the law allows you to conduct what is referred to as a "trial work period" in order to test if you're ready to work again.

The trial work period lasts at least nine-month period. During this timeframe, you can still receive your complete Social Security benefits, and it doesn't mater how much money you earn during this time frame as long as you show up for your work, and as long as you still have your disability. As of 2016, trial work month would count as any month in which your earnings exceed $810. Your trial work period will come to a close after you have worked a total of nine months within a period of sixty months.

Extended eligibility can also apply following your trial work period. Here, you will have 36 months, where you can keep woking and keep receiving benefits during months where your earnings do not exceed $1,130 (or $1,820 for visually impaired individuals). Also, if you continue to work and your benefits end as a result of your substantial earnings, you will be able to restart you benefits within a five-year window should your medical condition later prevent you from working again. This is achieved without the need to file a new disability benefits application.

Also, it's important to note that if your Medicare benefits come to a stop due to earnings, people who are still disabled can keep receiving free Medicare Part A coverage for as many as 93 months after the the end of the nine-month trial work period. After those 93 months have passed, recipients can purchase Medicare Part A on their own by paying the premium.

If you are receiving Social Security disability and interested in trying to go back to work. You may want to ask your Social Security disability attorney about the Trial Work Period. This could be a great way for you to test the water before fully committing yourself back to work life again.

Source: SSA, "Working While Disabled -- How We Can Help," accessed March 31, 2016

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