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  • Stephanie O. Joy, Esq.

Trial Work Period: Know Yours - Part 1

Updated: Nov 24, 2021

What you should know about:

the Trial Work Period

(both before AND after you win your SSDIB claim)

Note: This article is for general information only and is not legal advice to any particular reader or individual. For legal advice, you must specifically retain a lawyer.

Purpose of TWP:

The Trial Work Period’s (TWP) purpose is to allow you, the Title II (SSDIB) disabled beneficiary, the benefit of testing your ability to work, even full-time with high wages, without risking losing your benefits. POMS DI 13010.035A.

You need to know if and when your work

attempt, when disabled, will trigger the start of your TWP because that will tell you when your TWP ends and when your work, if SGA, will then terminate your disability benefits.

Basics of TWP:

The TWP includes nine (9) work months (“service months”), each of which occur within a five (5) year rolling period. Those nine months need not be consecutive but must all be found to have arisen within the same five year rolling period. Thus, the TWP extends throughout the life of the disabled person’s SSA-determined disability. POMS DI 13010.035B. The TWP is available only one time during your period of disability. POMS DI 13010.035C. (However, if you later have another period of disability, such as via a new application or via expedited reinstatement, you may have another TWP for that other distinct period.)

When TWP may begin:

Usually, the TWP begins the latest of:

1) your application date (protective filing date);

2) the first month that your first becomes entitled to a Title II disability benefit payment (this can be before your application date);

3) the first month that you work over the TWP amount (thereby making that month a “service month”)

There are also instances where there is no right to a TWP, which include those that engaged in SGA during certain early months in their disability period. 20 CFR §404.1592(d)(2)(ii), (iii), (iv). (Topic for a different blog another day, and I will link back here accordingly.)

When TWP will end: The TWP ends when the disabled person works enough to reach the designated earnings level (aka “service month”) for the 9th time/month within that rolling five year period. POMS DI 13010.035D2a. Generally, the service month is triggered by earning a minimal amount. In 2021, that amount was $940. Note: if you work under TWP always, you will never need to deal with this. Or, if you never work more than eight (8) distinct months at the TWP level (eight “service months”) in months that are all within a five year window of each other (measure that window with care!) you will never end your TWP. Also, if you are working at just under SGA, you are in a “service month” because SGA is always significantly higher than TWP amount.

So, when is our work, a “service month”? This will be our next blog, coming soon. But this blog you are reading now, hopefully informs you quickly and easily of the need for you to be aware of the repercussions of work so you can tailor your choices fully informed.

If you seek an attorney level consultation/analysis of a particular situation, or your own situation, beyond that information you may obtain for free from the SSA itself, and you do not otherwise have a lawyer representing your before the SSA, you may order a scheduled consultation at affordable attorney rates. Contact the office at 201-317-0610 or email

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