Trial Work Period (TWP)

If you get SSDI benefits, you can work for up to nine months in a five-year window without losing your benefits. This is called the Trial Work Period (TWP). During the nine months of your TWP, you can work and earn any level of income while still keeping your full SSDI benefits. This is a great way for you to get a job without having to worry about losing your SSDI benefits.

Trial Work Month

Each month your gross earnings (your earnings before taxes) are greater than $880 (in 2019) is called a Trial Work month. The five-year period in which you are allowed nine Trial Work months without losing your SSDI benefits is called the five-year window. Your nine Trial Work months may occur one right after the other or at irregular intervals within the five-year window.

If you earn more than $880 in a month, you’ve used up one Trial Work month. If you earn less than $880, you haven’t. Either way, you continue to get full SSDI benefits until you have used up all nine Trial Work months.

Example

Carolyn gets SSDI benefits and recently started working part-time in a flower shop. Her hours vary from month to month. Her gross monthly earnings for the first four months of 2019 were:

Carolyn's Earnings

January:

$400

February:

$1,150

March:

$620

April:

$970

In February and April, Carolyn used up Trial Work months, because she earned more than $880. January and March weren’t Trial Work months, because she earned less than $880.

She got full SSDI benefits in all four months, because she still hasn’t used up all nine Trial Work months.

Note: Before you start working, you should check with Social Security or a benefits planner to see if you've already used up any Trial Work months. You may have used up some or all of your Trial Work months in the past and not realize it.

Count Your SSDI Trial Work Months: