If you receive Social Security disability or hope to apply for benefits, you may wonder if you can continue to work without compromising your eligibility. The good news is that you can, thanks to the Social Security Administration’s work incentives.
Work incentives are special rules that help disabled persons continue to work and still receive their monthly benefits. The SSA Working While Disabled: How We Can Help pamphlet explores the top Social Security work incentives at a glance.
Trial work period
The trial work period is a 60-month period in which you can assess your capacity to work without sacrificing your benefits. During these five years, the SSA will continue to pay you regardless of your earnings and so long as you continue to have a disability. As of 2023, the SSA considers any month in which your earnings exceed $1,050 a “trial work month.” The TWP continues until you have amassed nine cumulative trial work months within the 60-month period.
Extended period of eligibility
If you make it through the TWP, the SSA then grants you an extended period of eligibility. This period lasts for three years, during which the SSA will pay you full benefits for any month in which your income is “unsubstantial.” Unsubstantial earnings are those that are less than $1,470 per month.
If you make it through the TWP and extended period of eligibility, you then enter another five-year period. During this period, you will not receive benefits. However, if your disability again affects your ability to work, you can request a reinstatement of benefits, which the SSA will do almost immediately. You do not have to file another application or wait for the SSA to review your medical condition before reinstating your benefits.
If you receive SSD, or if you wish to file, it may be helpful to understand your work rights. The SSA website and other resources can inform you of your rights per the law.