“My disability benefits stopped. Why?”
This is a question oft-asked by people trying to figure out why they haven’t received their benefit payments yet.
First off, disability benefits are not forever. The government has the right to revoke it anytime for various reasons. As a general rule, your disability benefits will be stopped if the government deems you don’t need it anymore.
It also depends on the kind of disability benefits you are receiving. The guidelines for revocation of benefit payments differ between SSI and SSDI.
Reasons Why Disability Benefits Stop
SSI and SSDI
- Medical Improvement
The SSA regularly reviews the medical improvement of each beneficiary to assess if they are still disabled. These continuing disability reviews are usually conducted every three to seven years.
If the SSA determines that your medical condition has improved to the point that it can no longer be qualified as a disability, your benefits may stop. This applies to both SSI and SSDI benefits.
To determine your medical improvement, the SSA will look at your symptoms and/or laboratory findings related to your impairment.
One of the eligibility requirements for social security disability benefits is that your medical condition must prevent you from working or doing any other type of income-generating activity. So once a beneficiary goes back to work, it is presumed that they are not anymore disabled.
If you are receiving SSDI benefits, the SSA gauges your disability based on your level of substantial gainful activity (SGA). Usually, SGA is determined based on how much you earn. For 2020, the SGA amount is $1,260 per month. This means that if your earnings equal to or exceed that amount, your benefits will stop.
But the SSA also implements the “trial work period” (TWP). During this period, you are allowed to go to work without losing your SSDI benefits. The trial work period usually lasts for 9 months.
For SSI beneficiaries, however, the trial work period does not apply. Your benefits will automatically stop once you return to work. But you can avail of the SSA’s Ticket to Work Program.
- Exceeding the Monthly Income Limit
If you are receiving SSI, going over the monthly income limit may stop your benefit payments. The maximum income amount changes each year.
For 2020, the income limit is $783 for individuals and $1,175 for married beneficiaries. An additional $392 can also be claimed by “essential persons”. An essential person is someone who is considered essential to the basic care of the person getting cash assistance.
But even if you earn more than the SSI income limit, it doesn’t automatically disqualify you from receiving benefits. The SSA only takes into account your “countable income” to determine your total earnings for the month.
Common examples of countable income are:
- wages, royalties, and honorarium
- pension from private sources
- child support
- benefits from government agencies such as SSA and VA
- food or shelter received at less than market value
- a portion of the income earned by your spouse or other people in your house
Your countable income is determined on a monthly basis. So it’s possible that you won’t receive any benefit payments this month but will do so on the next.
- Changes in Living Situation
SSI recipients who leave the country for more than 30 days will not be able to receive their benefits. The same also goes for those who leave institutions like nursing homes or halfway houses.
- Turning 18
If your children are receiving SSI, the SSA will reevaluate their disability eligibility once they turn 18. If they don’t meet the adult SSI standards, their benefit payments will stop.
- Incarceration or Institutionalization
If you are incarcerated or institutionalized after being convicted of a crime, your SSDI benefits will stop. At least until while you are in prison. It will resume a month after your release.
Felony charges, even without imprisonment, may also cause your benefit payments to stop permanently. But a misdemeanor conviction won’t have any effect on your benefits as long as you are not imprisoned.
By law, you are not allowed to receive both retirement benefits and SSDI. As such, if you are receiving SSDI and have reached the full retirement age, your benefits will stop. Instead, it will be converted to retirement benefits.
Filing an Appeal
If you do not agree with the SSA’s decision to cut off your benefits, you have 60 days to file an appeal. It starts after you received the notification that your benefits will be stopped.
Failing to file an appeal within the 60-day period, you may still file your appeal. But you need to have a valid excuse why your appeal was filed late.
If you file an appeal within 10 days after receiving the notification, you may also request your payments to continue while the SSA is deciding on your appeal. But you need to pay back some or all of the money you received if the SSA decides to decline your appeal.
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Victor Malca Law has over 25 years of litigation experience, we are the most trusted workers’ compensation lawyers in Florida. Our area of expertise is in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claim social security disability benefits.
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About The Author
Judy Ponio is a writer for Victor Malca Law P.A. and enjoys helping people with questions about social security, workers compensation, and other serious matters involving people’s livelihood. She is not an attorney and her writing should not be considered legal advice.