Two women signing documentsSeeing if work is right for you doesn't mean you have to give up your benefits immediately. Social Security has rules in place to help people who receive disability benefits test their ability to work while receiving some or all of those benefits. Work Incentives like the Trial Work Period can help you through the transition to work and toward financial independence.

Read more ...

What You Need to Know About the Trial Work Period

Mar 11, 2021

Two women signing documentsDid you know that if you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you may be able to test your ability to work for 9 months and still receive full SSDI benefit payments no matter how much you earn from your job? It's true. It's one of Social Security's Work Incentives – the Trial Work Period (TWP). Let's take a closer look at this Incentive, one of many from Social Security that supports people who receive benefits and want to work.

Trial Work Period

With the TWP, people who receive SSDI have an opportunity to decide whether working is right for them while receiving their benefit payments for 9 months. Each disability claim with Social Security is eligible for a single TWP to support beneficiaries while they explore long-term employment. During the TWP, they receive full SSDI benefit payments no matter how much they earn. It's important to know that the 9 months do not have to be consecutive. Once you use those nine months, you have used the TWP. When deciding if you have used your TWP, Social Security measures earnings over a 60-month (5 year) period. Beneficiaries must report their work activity and continue to meet Social Security's rules for disability during those 9 months.

What If you receive SSI?

Rules for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are different. SSI recipients are not eligible for Trial Work Periods, but have their own supports available when they are ready to try working.

For more information:

How does it work?

Social Security uses the amount of earnings you make in a month before taxes, to calculate if a month counts toward one of the 9 months of your TWP. In 2021, any month in which you earn $940 or more will count toward your TWP. For example, if you began your TWP in 2021 and earned $1,500 in January and $800 in February, you would have used 1 of your 9 TWP "service months."

If you start your TWP as a self-employed person, any month you earn $940 or work more than 80 hours, that month will count as one of your TWP "service months."

Reporting Wages

Whether you receive SSDI or SSI, Social Security needs to know about your work activity or wages earned. A Ticket to Work (Ticket) Program service provider can explain Social Security's work and wage reporting requirements and may assist with reporting earnings to Social Security.

When Your Trial Work Period Ends

After you've completed your 9 months of the TWP, you begin a 36-month Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE). During this time, if you continue to work, Social Security will evaluate your work and earnings. A person who is earning more than a certain monthly amount after consideration of all of Social Security's work incentives, is ordinarily considered to be engaging in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). In 2021, SGA is a monthly earning of $1,310 for individuals who are not blind and $2,190 for individuals who are blind. Social Security determines your eligibility for benefits based on this number, and some other work incentives that may allow Social Security not to count some of your earnings.

Ready to Learn More?

The Trial Work Period (TWP) fact sheet is available to help explain the TWP process, how success is measured during your trial and what happens when your TWP ends.

Have more questions? A Ticket to Work service provider can answer your questions and help guide you through the process.

If you do not perform work that Social Security determines to be SGA during any month of your EPE and continue to have your disabling impairment, you will be due your disability benefits during that month. For months that you earn above SGA, you may no longer be due payments, once Social Security looks at the earnings. If Social Security decides your work is substantial Gainful Activity the first time after your Trial Work Period ends, Social Security will pay benefits for the month your disability ceased and the following 2 months. This is the grace period. However, if your earnings fall below SGA and you are still within the 36-month period, Social Security can restart your benefits without a new application.

About Ticket to Work

Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) Program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSDI or SSI) and want to work. The Ticket Program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

The Ticket Program connects you with free employment services to help you decide if working is right for you, prepare for work, find a job or maintain success while you are working.

Learn more

To learn more about the Ticket Program, visit choosework.ssa.gov or call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket Program Find Help tool.

Learn more

To learn more about the Ticket Program, visit choosework.ssa.gov or call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket Program Find Help tool.

Receive Ticket Program Texts

If you're interested in receiving text messages from the Ticket Program, please text TICKET to 474747. Standard messaging rates may apply. We'll send updates from our blog, identify steps on the path to employment and more. We hope you'll find this new way to stay in touch helpful. You can opt out at any time.

If you're interested in receiving text messages from the Ticket Program, please text TICKET to 474747. Standard messaging rates may apply. We'll send updates from our blog, identify steps on the path to employment and more. We hope you'll find this new way to stay in touch helpful. You can opt out at any time.

Receive Blog Updates
  Opt in to receive information about the Ticket program via text. Text the word "TICKET" to 474747