What if I am receiving SSDI benefits but think I can go back to work?

If you are receiving Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits, you have an opportunity to decide whether you are able to work and whether working is the right thing for you. The program is called a Trial Work Period (TWP).

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will allow you to receive your monthly benefit payments for 9 months during the TWP. Each person receiving disability benefits from SSA is eligible for a single TWP to support beneficiaries while they explore long-term employment.

Earnings trigger an SSD trial work period

During a trial work period, a beneficiary receiving Social Security disability benefits on the basis of his or her own earnings history may test his or her ability to work and still be considered disabled. SSA does not consider services performed during the trial work period as showing that the disability has ended until services have been performed in at least 9 months (not necessarily consecutive) in a rolling 60-month period. In 2022, any month in which earnings exceed $970 is considered a month of services for an individual’s trial work period. In 2023, this monthly amount increased to $1,050. The trial work period does not apply to SSI benefits.

What method does SSA use to determine earnings that trigger a trial work period?

The formula for TWP earnings is a bit complicated. Here is how the SSA explains it:

Monthly earnings in 2023, used to determine whether a month is part of a trial work period, is the amount for 2001 multiplied by the ratio of the national average wage index for 2021 to that for 1999, or if larger, such amount for 2022 ($970). If the amount so calculated is not a multiple of $10, SSA rounds it to the nearest multiple of $10. Below are details on how SSA determined the latest amount.

Calculation details
Amounts in
2001 monthly earnings $530
1999 average wage index 30,469.84
2021 average wage index 60,575.07
Computation $530 times 60,575.07 divided by 30,469.84 equals $1,053.66, which rounds to $1,050
Higher amount $1,050 exceeds the amount for 2022, so the amount for 2023 is $1,050


If you have more questions about SSDI or a TWP, give our office a call at (610) 446-3457, click here to send us an email, or fill out the form below.