1. Social Security Disability
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  3. Glossary
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  5. Extended Period of Eligibility

Extended Period of Eligibility

When a Social Security Disability beneficiary makes a return to work effort, they are placed in what is known as a Trial Work Period. Their Social Security Disability benefits are unaffected over this time period. During this Trial Work Period, which lasts nine non-consecutive months across a 60-month period, the disability recipient is not restricted in terms of the amount of income they can earn.

If a disability recipient successfully completes the Trial Work Period and continues to work, he or she is enrolled into a new time period known as the Extended Period of Eligibility. The Extended Period of Eligibility begins the month following the conclusion of your Trial Work Period and lasts 36 consecutive months.

This Extended Period of Eligibility provides a disabled individual with an additional 36 consecutive months of Social Security Disability benefits eligibility. During this time period, a disabled person may continue to receive disability payments based on the amount of income they receive. If you are receiving disability benefits and do not generate a significant amount of gainful income throughout your 36-month Extended Period of Eligibility, you will retain your Social Security Disability payments.

It is critical to remember that you are responsible for tracking your earnings and reporting them to the Social Security Administration throughout your Extended Period of Eligibility. During this time period, the Social Security Administration will determine whether your gross earnings exceed the Social Security Administration’s limits on Substantial Gainful Activity. During this time period, the first month in which your gross earnings exceed the level required for Substantial Gainful Activity, your benefits will be reduced. You will proceed to receive Social Security Disability benefits for that month and two extra months. This is known as a grace period. After that time period, if you continue to earn more than the Substantial Gainful Activity restrictions, your disability payments will be terminated.

If you are unable to continue working for whatever reason throughout your Extended Period of Eligibility, your Social Security Disability payments will be safeguarded and you will not be required to reapply for benefits with the Social Security Administration.