Those who are unable to work due to medical conditions or disabilities often turn to benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance. However, there are situations where a person’s overall health may improve, and he or she might feel as if returning to work is a possibility. It can be a big risk to go back to work, lose benefits and then realize working is still out of the question. Instead, SSDI recipients in New Jersey can do a trial work period.

What is a trial work period?

The Social Security Administration — SSA — offers trial work periods as one of many different work incentives designed to help SSDI recipients transition into the workforce when ready. The trial work period creates a safety net for recipients to try out working without ever losing access to their benefits. This is great for anyone who wants to return to work but is unsure whether they will be physically or mentally capable of doing so.

How do trial periods work?

The SSA grants 9 months of trial work period over the course of five years. These months do not have to be all in a row. Anything earned over $940 pre taxes is considered part of someone’s trial work period. For those who are self-employed, working more than 80 hours in a single month is also considered to be part of the trial period. A few things to keep in mind about the trial work period include:

  • SSA tracks earnings, so there is no need to enroll
  • Benefits do not necessarily end upon accumulating 9 months of work
  • Medicare coverage will temporarily continue upon completion

Work and SSDI benefits are not necessarily mutually exclusive. However, the SSA does put a limit on anything that it considers to be substantial gainful activity. Understanding that there are options for earning a small income as well as moving forward with a trial work period may help some people in New Jersey who are on the fence about applying for benefits.