What Can I Do If My Benefits Are Terminated?

Social Security Disability Termination in Washington, DC

What Do I Do If My Benefits Are Terminated?

Health problems stopped you from working and threatened your financial stability.

The stress was overwhelming. You endured the complicated process of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

Then relief came: You finally won benefits.

But what happens if you lose them?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) can terminate your benefits for two major reasons: you’re working and earning above certain income caps, or your health problems improve.

The SSA also can terminate your disability benefits if you’re convicted of a crime and go to prison.

And your benefits stop, regardless of health condition, when you reach retirement age and begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits.

Just like when an initial application is denied and you appeal, you can appeal a decision to terminate your benefits.

But another important rule applies: You have limited time to appeal.

You must appeal within 60 days of the decision to terminate your benefits.

Having a professional representative by your side can help you navigate this complex process.

These are the basic points to know if your disability benefits are terminated:

If You’re Working and Earning Above a Certain Amount

A top reason people lose Social Security Disability benefits is that they are working enough to earn more than a limit set by the SSA.

The exact amount of the limit changes over time. In 2016, it was $1,130 per month and $1,820 per month for someone with blindness.

The SSA calls those amounts “substantial gainful activity,” which disqualify you from SSDI benefits.

The income limits only apply to income from work by the person receiving disability benefits. Investments, interest and income from a spouse don’t count against the limit.

One exception to the work income limit is if you return to work for a trial period meant to test your ability to resume work. You can keep receiving disability benefits for up to nine months of trial work time, according to SSA guidelines.

If Your Health Condition Improves

To keep receiving Social Security Disability benefits, the SSA has to consider your medical condition to be severe.

The SSA explains that your health problems “must significantly limit your ability to do basic work activities – such as lifting, standing, walking, sitting and remembering – for at least 12 months.”

The SSA periodically reviews your medical situation. The program sets the timing of the reviews based on three levels of seriousness of your health problems:

  • Medical improvement expected: When your condition is expected to get better, the SSA will check your status six to 18 months after you started receiving benefits.
  • Improvement possible: When it’s possible your health will improve, but it’s not certain, the SSA will review your case about every three years.
  • Improvement not expected: If your health is unlikely to improve, the SSA checks your case every five to seven years.

If You’re Imprisoned or Confined Against Your Will

The SSA stops paying disability benefits for time people spend in prison after being convicted of a crime. Family members can still receive benefits.

This termination of benefits applies to anyone confined to an institution by court order at public expense.

It includes people found not guilty by reason of insanity or incompetent to stand trial.

Disability benefits also stop during periods when someone violates of their probation or parole.

And they stop for someone with an outstanding arrest warrant for fleeing to avoid prosecution or confinement, or for escaping confinement.

Working With a Professional Representative

Mathis & Mathis Disability Advocates helps you appeal if the SSA terminates your Social Security Disability benefits.

Navigating the process can be difficult. We have decades of experience working with the system.

Contact Mathis & Mathis Disability Advocates today if you need to appeal a termination of disability benefits.