How does the nine-month period work for Social Security disability?

(Visit the Social Security Disability Resource Center) –

Social Security wants to encourage disability beneficiaries to explore work possibilities with the goal of eventually having fewer beneficiaries on the rolls. The nine-month trial work month period is one of the incentives offered for individuals to encourage work activity.

A word of caution: it is not advisable to work at an SGA level in the twelve months following your entitlement to disability. This could cause your disability claim to be reviewed that could result in a finding of not disabled.

With that in mind, you have a trial work period, meaning you can engage in work activity over the SGA limit for any nine months in a rolling five-year period. This means that the months do not have to be consecutive and could occur randomly over the five-year period. During this time and this time only, SGA wages do not cause you be not overpaid nor do they cause any kind of cessation of disability benefits.

Another word of caution would be that the amount needed to count as a trial work month is less than the current SGA. If you do find a job, contact your local Social Security office to get information about the SGA monthly amount and the trial work month amount prior to taking it. If you do decide to take it, be sure to provide a work report to Social Security. This will prevent future problems and overpayments.

If you are working and earning over SGA in the tenth month, your disability benefits will be suspended for any month you earn over the SGA limit. The tenth month also begins your extended period of disability (EPE), a thirty-six month period in which you can contact Social Security at any time to begin your disability benefits if you have lost your job due to your disabling condition.

For more information about SSD and SSI on this site, please refer to the pages and sections linked below.