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Trial Work Period | Social Security Trial Work Period

A trial work period is a period of time when you may still receive disability benefits while you attempt to earn a regular paycheck. It is a program that was designed to ease the transition into working and as an incentive to help those who are disabled but can still work.

When you receive disability benefits but continue to work, Social Security will watch your earnings carefully for any sign that your disability is improving. The signs that Social Security watches for are:

  1. 9 months in a 5 year period of steady work (but not necessarily consecutive).
  2. Earnings that meet or exceed SGA.

If one or both of these factors apply in your situation, you may be considered to be performing a trial work period. Social Security will then examine your case and determine whether your disability has improved. If your earnings meet or exceed Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) amounts (currently $1070 per month), your benefits will end.

After the trial work period, you may then have an Extended Period of Eligibility. This simply means that for 3 more years, each month that you do not exceed SGA earnings, you will still receive benefits.

Remember that Social Security’s definition of "work" may be different from yours. If you perform a service for free that normally you would be paid for, that still shows you can work and may be considered a trial work period.

If your benefits end because of your earnings but you still need medical coverage, your free Medicare part A coverage will continue for 93 months after the trial work period. You can then pay the monthly premium to continue coverage. If you have Medicare part B coverage, you must continue to pay the monthly premium to have your coverage continue.