Trial work periods are allowed for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claimants who would like to take advantage of the Social Security Administration's work incentives and test their ability to return to work. Social Security Disability claimants may work for at least nine months and receive full SSDI benefits, regardless of how much they earn. Claimants must continue to have a mental or physical disabling health condition and report the amount of their earnings to the Social Security Administration (SSA). The trial work period can continue until the claimant has completed nine trial work months within a 60 month period.
Claimants will still get a monthly SSDI disability check from the SSA during the trial work period, but they must report their work to the SSA and continue to suffer from a disabling condition.
Now, here is when it gets tricky. If you work and use up your trial work period you have an additional 36 months of work eligibility, as long as your earnings are not "substantial." That is defined as income over $1,010 for the non-blind or $1,680 if you are blind.
Claimants who start having substantial earnings or who pass the extended 36 month period will have their SSDI benefits terminated. An expedited reinstatement is possible, however, if you reapply within 60 months and your condition remains the same or gets worse and you find that you are not able to work.