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“Can I Do Seasonal Work and Keep My Disability Benefits?”

Riddle Brantley LLP   |  December 8, 2021   |  

How Seasonal Work Can Benefit People with Disabilities

Many of our disability clients – especially those at the younger end of the age scale – ask us how and when they might go back to work once their disabling conditions improve, but still protect their benefits. A recent article in Forbes addresses this issue, in the context of “seasonal employment” over the holidays.

How Disability Recipients Can Use the “Trial Work Period”

Trial Work Period for Disability RecipientsThere is a common misconception that once you are approved for disability benefits, you are not allowed to work. In fact, the Social Security Disability system encourages disability recipients to return to work and offers incentives for them to ease back into full-time employment without putting their disability benefits at risk. They do this by a provision called the “Trial Work Period.” Very basically, a person collecting disability benefits can work and earn a decent amount of income (anything over $940/month, as of 2021) for nine calendar months out of a five-year period. And, that five-year period is a “rolling” five years, so you get nine months of unlimited earnings every five years while keeping your benefits.

Now, bear in mind, the applicability of the Trial Work Period assumes that the person’s disabling conditions have not improved. If you show “medical improvement” under the SSA’s rules, most likely your benefits will be terminated whether or not you actually return to work.

A Way to “Try Out” a Return to Work for Disability Recipients

The practical effect of the Trial Work Period is that it allows you to try part- or full-time work while you still get your full disability benefits, just to see how it goes. Some folks find that, despite their best efforts, they simply cannot work more than a few hours per week. Others find that even though they still have serious medical or mental health problems, they can make it through a 40-hour week if the conditions are just right. Seasonal work as described in the article offers more opportunities to give working a try than might be available at other times of the year.


About the Author: Scott Scurfield is an attorney and Board-Certified Specialist in Social Security Disability at Riddle & Brantley, where he leads the disability and veterans disability teams.

Need Help with a Disability Appeal?

If you’ve been denied disability benefits and need help with the appeals process, call Riddle & Brantley at 1-800-525-7111 today. Our disability team is led by North Carolina disability attorney Scott Scurfield, a Board-Certified Specialist in Social Security Disability law. Scott and his team know the disability system inside and out and are ready to help however they can. Call 1-800-525-7111 or complete the convenient form below and let’s talk.