TN 30 (12-09)
DI 13010.060 Determining Trial Work Period (TWP) Service Months and Evaluating Subsequent Work Activity
A. Service Months
Table of service months
Wages-Earnings in a month are “services” for TWP if more than:
Self-Employment-earnings or activities in a month are “services” for TWP if more than:
$850 or 80 hours*
$840 or 80 hours*
$810 or 80 hours*
$780 or 80 hours*
$770 or 80 hours*
$750 or 80 hours*
$720 or 80 hours*
$720 or 80 hours*
$720 or 80 hours*
$700 or 80 hours*
$670 or 80 hours*
$640 or 80 hours*
$620 or 80 hours*
$590 or 80 hours*
$580 or 80 hours*
$570 or 80 hours*
$560 or 80 hours*
$530 or 80 hours*
$200 or 40 hours*
$75 or 15 hours*
$50 or 15 hours*
*NOTE: The number of hours that indicate a self-employment month for a TWP is different from the number of hours used in the evaluation of self-employment for substantial gainful activity (SGA).
B. TWP services
1. Work that constitutes services
Work activity in employment constitutes services only if it is actually or usually performed for remuneration or profit:
Only count services that produce earnings higher than the TWP amounts in a month either in cash or for earnings that are normally done for pay or profit.
Commissions constitute services when it is possible to isolate the earnings for each particular month. When it is not possible to isolate the earnings, divide the commissions for the particular period by the months of employment to find the commissions earned per month.
Sheltered workshop earnings, under a program of rehabilitation training constitute “services” for TWP purposes.
Vocational rehabilitation (VR) program earnings constitute “services” for TWP purposes.
Paid internship programs or work therapy programs constitute “services” for TWP purposes.
2. Work that does not constitute services
Work activity performed without remuneration, (e.g., therapy, training, or self-care) does not constitute services if the activity, although resembling services in employment for remuneration or gain, is:.
part of a prescribed program of medical therapy; or
carried out in a hospital under the supervision of medical and administrative staff; or
the result of a beneficiary performing as a volunteer in a program under the Domestic Volunteer Service Act (DVSA) or the Small Business Act; or
not performed in an employer-employee relationship per RS 02101.005.
NOTE: Participants in Federally sponsored volunteer programs under the DVSA may receive a stipend or allowance for volunteer services. Neither the stipend (“earnings”) received by the volunteers, nor the services performed by them under the DVSA, should be evaluated for the purposes of the TWP. This protection does not apply to any work that the volunteer may undertake in activities outside the specified programs. It also does not apply to non-volunteers who are associated with the program. For further discussion, and a listing of the DVSA programs that applies to this exclusion, see DI 10505.025.
3. Services in self-employment
Work activity in self-employment constitutes “services” only when net earnings in a calendar month are more than the dollar amount shown in The table of service months, or if the self-employed person spends more than the amount of hours shown in that month in the work activity.
Use eWork to record self-employment income and hours of work. The eWork system propagates the earnings information onto the Verify/Update Earnings (VERN) screen in the Disability Control File (DCF).
When it is not possible to determine the total net earnings for each particular month of self-employment, divide the net earnings for the particular work period by the months of self-employment to find net earnings per month.
C. Determining service months
It is important to determine how many months in the TWP are actual service months. It may be necessary for you to combine the findings from a current review with the findings of previous reviews to arrive at the total service months completed in the TWP. When you evaluate work activity, take the following steps:
1. Use earnings from any reliable source
Use verified earnings information on the supplemental security income record (SSR), along with the beneficiary's statement of work to determine service months for TWP purposes. Do not rely solely on SSR wage information to determine if a beneficiary has used a TWP month. Continuing disability review (CDR) procedures apply at the end of the TWP (for work CDR procedure, see DI 13010.025).
2. Count the number of service months in a TWP
It is not complicated when only one period of work activity is involved. However, because the nine service months do not have to be consecutive, you may need to consider work in several periods over several years. It may be necessary for you to combine the findings from a current review with the findings of previous reviews to arrive at the total service months completed in the TWP.
3. Query eWork or the disability control file (DCF)
Check to see if eWork or the DCF contains the necessary information about prior determinations. While querying eWork, access the “earnings and events” screen by clicking on the “View Prior Decision” button on the Work Review Summary screen. When there is no pending work review, click on the “Query Work Development” button. You can access completed cases by clicking on the “View Prior Decisions/Retransmit” button. In the initial conversion, when the DCF converted TWP data from the Master Beneficiary Record (MBR), the system attempted to determine service months. It posted these earnings as “C” if it believed it properly converted the information. If the DCF did not determine exact TWP data, it posted what it determined to be the most likely months, and posted these months as “Q” for questionable. Accept both entries of “C” and “Q” as verified earnings.
4. Note the TWP ending date on the DCF
Evaluate the ending date on the DCF to determine TWP service months: Based on converted data or on a month previously posted to the DCF; the DCF screen shows the TWP service month of “9”.
5. Additional queries
Carefully review all related queries and the work development screen in eWork for any prior work activity. Review the claims folder for evidence of prior periods of work. If it is in the paper folder, you may find the prior periods of work on an SSA-3845, Trial Work Period Tally Sheet. Other obtainable queries: Shared process evidence screen from the SSA MAIN screen, PC Paperless System, the MBR special message field, and Claims File Record Management System (CFRMS).
MSOM CDR 001.003, CDR Entitlement Screen (ECDR)
DI 13010.655, The Query Earnings (QERN) Screen
DI 13010.675, The Verify/Update Earnings (VERN) Screen
DI 13010.677, The Entitlement Selection (ESEL) Screen
DI 13010.679, The Entitlement Summary (ESUM) Screen
D. Determining the rolling 60-Month period
Effective 01/1992, a TWP is complete only when a beneficiary for disability insurance benefits (DIB), disabled widow’s benefits (DWB), or childhood disability benefits (CDB) completes nine service months within a 60 consecutive month rolling period. The earliest that we can credit a ninth service month under the rolling 60-month TWP provisions is 01/1992. For that reason, the first service month that we can credit under the rolling 60-month TWP provision is 02/1987.
2. When the 60-month period applies
Apply the rolling 60-month TWP in an initial or subsequent period of entitlement to DIB, DWB, or CDB, if the beneficiary:
completed less than nine TWP service months as of 01/1992 (i.e., eight or less TWP service months are credited prior to 01/1992); and
has not medically recovered (i.e., disability has not been found to have ceased due to medical improvement, or an exception to medical improvement (e.g., SGA)).
3. How to count the 60-month period
When a beneficiary completes nine service months (01/1992 or later), count back 60 consecutive months to see if the nine service months were completed in that 60-month period.
If they were not completed:
the service months that fall before the 60-month period are ignored,
the service months that fall within the 60-month period are counted, and
the TWP continues.
Each time that a service month is used, count to determine if nine service months are completed within the 60-month period, ending with the ninth service month. Consider the TWP complete when you identify nine service months within a 60-month period.
4. Work issue determinations made August 10, 2000 and later
If the TWP is not completed prior to 01/1992, apply the provisions of the rolling 60-month TWP. Do not count service months for the rolling 60-month TWP before 02/1987. The earliest that a beneficiary can complete a TWP under the rolling 60 month TWP provision is 01/1992.
5. Work issue determinations made prior to August 10, 2000
When a beneficiary did not complete a TWP before 01/1992, (e.g., if they completed eight or fewer service months before 01/1992, or if the beneficiary was re-entitled to DIB or DWB, so the work was never evaluated under the TWP service month criteria) find the beneficiary entitled to a rolling 60-month TWP beginning with 01/1992. The ninth service month of the rolling 60-month TWP could not have been completed prior to 01/1992.
Determine the first possible 60-month period when pre-01/1992 TWP service months were possible by:
counting the first service month in or after 01/1992, and the last eight service months immediately prior to that month, and
disregarding the months of work before these nine months when crediting services in the TWP.
E. Evaluating work after the TWP
When a beneficiary works after completing the TWP, determine if the work activity shows an ability to engage in SGA.
If it does, the disability has ceased, if it does not, determine that the disability continues.
Returning to work may present a medical improvement issue. If this issue is present, and the beneficiary is not protected from a medical CDR, consider if the beneficiary may be protected from a medical review under the Ticket to Work program, or under Section 111 of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 (see DI 55001.001 or DI 13010.012).
If the beneficiary is not protected from a medical review, send the case to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) for a medical CDR. If SGA continues for at least one month following completion of the TWP, and the beneficiary has met all the other rules related to SGA cessation, use the SGA exception to medical improvement, and find that disability ceased. For instructions on how to complete the SSA-833-U3, see DI 13010.170).
EXAMPLE: If the ninth TWP month is 12/2002, and we made a SGA decision on 01/2003, there must have been actual performance of SGA in the month of 1/2003 before we can find that the disability ceased in 01/2003. If work does not continue for at least one month at the SGA level, you can not use the SGA exception to medical improvement.
NOTE: Section 303 of the 1980 amendment provides a re-entitlement period, or EPE, to beneficiaries who have completed their TWP. The re-entitlement period is a period of time where the beneficiary may test his or her ability to work, and receives a disability payment for any month that he or she does not perform SGA.
When evaluating work after the TWP, your determination must take into consideration whether substantial gainful work is continuing, or, if it has stopped. Also, how long has the work lasted? What was the reason the work stopped? Finally, consider all relevant work incentives: i.e., unsuccessful work attempts (UWA) averaging, IRWEs, unincurred business expenses, and subsidy, when applicable. Evaluate work activity, and decide if it is SGA by using the SGA policies. Disability ceases when the beneficiary demonstrates a continuing ability to engage in SGA.
DI 10501.015, Tables of Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) Earnings Guidelines and Effective Dates Based on Year of Work Activity
DI 10505.001, General - Evaluation and Development of Employment
DI 13010.210, Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE)