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Trial Work Period

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

520. Trial Work Period

520.1 What is the purpose of the trial work period?

A trial work period provides an incentive for personal rehabilitation efforts for you as a disabled worker, disabled widow(er), or childhood disability beneficiary (who is still disabled) to return to work. It allows you to test your ability to work for up to nine months within a 60-consecutive-month period without your earnings for those months affecting your benefits.

520.2 Does the trial work period affect benefit rights?

If your disability does not improve and you continue to report your work activity, your rights to trial work period benefits are not affected.

520.3 Does the work you do during the trial work period determine the end of your disability?

Any work and earnings during the nine-month trial work period is disregarded in determining whether your disability ended during the trial work period.

520.4 Can your benefits end before the trial work period ends?

The trial work period does not prevent the consideration of any medical evidence that demonstrates your recovery before the ninth-month period. If your condition has improved, it is possible for your benefits to end before you complete your ninth month of trial work.

520.5 How many trial work periods are allowed?

Only one trial work period is allowed in any one period of disability.

(See §506 for conditions under which an extended period of eligibility occurs after the trial work period.)

520.6 When is your work during the trial work period not counted as a "month of service"?

For calendar year 2008, use the following guidelines to determine if your work during a trial work period does not count as a "month of service" for trial work period purposes:

  1. Your earnings from employment are $670 or less in a month; or

  2. Your earnings from self-employment activity are $670 or less in a month and you spend 80 hours or less in self-employment activity.

The dollar amount is adjusted each year based on the national average wage.

520.7 When are benefits in the trial work period not payable?

If you are convicted by a Federal Court of fraudulently concealing work activity that occurred during the TWP, you are not eligible to receive payment for any TWP months that occur in or after March 2004 and before the date of the conviction. If payments for those TWP months have already been paid to you, you will be liable for repayment.

Last Revised: Jan. 22, 2008

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