The Trial Work Period
A common issue in Social Security Disability is whether a disabled person, who makes improvements in medical limitations, may attempt work. The Social Security Administration, as a matter of official policy, encourages all attempts to leave the Social Security rolls and return to gainful employment. To allow this to occur, a “Trial Work Period” allows a beneficiary to test the labor market in a return to work. The “Trial Work Period” is a period of 9 months, during any 60 month period.
To further encourage attempts to return to work, the Social Security Administration will not use employment during the Trial Work Period, as “medical evidence” that the Social Security beneficiary has made medical improvement. This is true for a minimum of twenty-four months, during which time any “trial work” will not be used to terminate benefits, on the basis that the individual is no longer “disabled.” These very liberal rules provide strong incentives for a return to work. In most cases, even at minimum wage, many individuals earn far more from employment than from receiving Social Security Disability Benefits.