If you depend on SSDI payments to get by, it's important to make sure that you continue receiving your benefits reliably. Knowing what circumstances could cause the Social Security Administration to suspend or discontinue your benefits will help you know what action to take when those circumstances arrive. Take a look at some of the most common things that can stop your Social Security Disability Insurance payments.
1. Earning Too Much Money
It's common for SSDI recipients to fear returning to work, because they don't want to re-enter the workforce, lose their benefits, and then discover that they still aren't really well enough to maintain employment. However, the Social Security Administration understands this difficulty, and they have a system in place that will allow you to test out returning to work without losing your benefits or having to go through the application process all over again.
First, you have what's known as a Trial Work Period, or TWP. This is a period of nine months when you can earn an unlimited amount of money without losing any of your benefits. The months don't have to be consecutive, but any month out of sixty that you earn over $810 will count toward your Trial Work Period months. If you reach the end of your nine months and decide not to continue working, or if you don't work enough to earn more than over $810 a month, you will continue to receive your benefits as usual.
If you do decide to continue working, you'll enter a new phase known as the Extended Period of Eligibility. During this time, if you work and receive less than the substantial gainful activity ($1,130 for nonblind recipients and $1,820 for blind recipients), then you'll still receive your benefits. However, if you earn more than this amount, you'll lose your benefit. However,But the good news is that during the thirty-six-month Extended Period of Eligibility, you can reinstate your benefits without having to start over at the beginning of the application process. Just contact Social Security and let them know that you've fallen under the Substantial Gainful Activity amount or stopped working entirely, and your benefits will be restarted right away.
2. An Improvement in Your Medical Condition
The next thing that might affect whether you continue to receive your SSDI benefits is an improvement in your medical condition. If the Social Security Administration determines that you're no longer disabled, they can stop your benefits. This can happen after a Continuing Disability Review—a review of your case to determine whether or not you should still be receiving benefits.
If you lose your benefits because of a determination made during a Continuing Disability Review, you can appeal the decision by filing a request for a hearing within ten days of receiving the notification of your cessation of benefits. At the same time, you can request that your benefits continue pending the results of the hearing. However, consider carefully before you do this. If your benefits are denied at the hearing or at a later appeal, you can be required to pay back the benefits you received while you waited for the hearing. If you do elect to have your benefits continued pending a hearing, you have to make sure that you request the continuation in the same ten-day time span.
3. Aging Out
One more thing that can cause your benefits to cease is aging out of the SSDI system. This can happen to children receiving SSDI once they reach adulthood and also to adults receiving SSDI once they reach retirement age.
Children will need to be reevaluated in order to continue their benefits once they reach adulthood. The standards for determining disability for adults are different than those for children, so new adults will have to meet the new standard to stay on SSDI. This review is automatic, and you can appeal the decision if they discontinue your child's benefits and you believe the decision is in error.
On the other hand, adults that reach full retirement age will have their SSDI benefits discontinued only because those benefits will automatically be converted to Social Security retirement payments. This is good news, because you won't experience an interruption in your payments. You'll just be receiving them from a different program.
Keeping a close eye on your earnings and staying on top of any changes in your circumstances that might trigger a review or a change in your case will help you avoid losing your benefits or help you prepare for any necessary appeals. Keep careful medical and financial records, and don't hesitate to seek out a Social Security Disability attorney for help if you feel that your benefits have been discontinued unfairly. You can contact an attorney through a firm like Horn & Kelley, PC Attorneys at Law.