For those already receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, it is very important to understand the circumstances that can affect continued eligibility for these benefits. By becoming aware of the most common ways that SSD benefits can be terminated, SSD recipients can ensure that they do not jeopardize their ability to receive their disability payments.
Returning to work while receiving disability benefits
While SSD recipients are permitted to work a certain amount while receiving disability benefits, working while receiving these benefits can raise red flags with the Social Security Administration (SSA). This is because the SSA’s definition of disability implies an inability to work due to a disabling condition.
Individuals receiving SSDI benefits are permitted to earn up to the substantial gainful activity level each month and still receive benefits. This level is $1,090 a month. So long as the disability recipient earns under this level, he or she remains eligible to continue receiving disability benefits. However, a disability recipient will not receive benefits for any month in which he or she earns over $1,090.
Individuals receiving SSI benefits can also lose their benefits if their income or assets go above specific levels. So long as a SSI recipient does not earn more than $733 a month in income or have assets that are more than $2,000 he or she will remain eligible to receive SSI benefits.
When a disability recipient experiences a medical improvement that would allow the person to go back to work the SSA may decide to terminate the recipient’s benefits. This decision is made through Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) where disability recipients must provide information about their recent medical treatment and the activities they are able to perform in their daily lives.
A claims examiner will review a recipient’s medical records to determine whether there has been any medical improvement(s) since the time the person became disabled. If there are no medical improvements, the case will be closed and the recipient’s benefits will continue. If there are any medical improvements, the claims examiner will determine that the recipient is able to work again and he or she will no longer be considered disabled.
Disabled child reaches adulthood
Children receiving SSI will automatically have their cases reevaluated when they reach the age of 18. At this time, the SSA requires that the former child recipient be able to meet the adult standards for disability. If the recipient cannot meet the adult standards, his or her disability benefits will be discontinued.
Reaching retirement age
When a SSD recipient reaches retirement age, his or her disability benefits are converted into Social Security retirement benefits. This is because disability benefits are often thought of as a retirement benefit for those who are forced to “retire” early due to a disability. When disability recipients reach their retirement age, their disability benefits stop and their Social Security retirement benefits begin.
When disability recipients get married, their incomes are combined with the incomes and assets of their new spouses. As a result, the SSA will review the financial status of the new spouse to determine whether the SSD recipient may still qualify for benefits. If a disability recipient’s financial situation and life circumstances are greatly changed for the better as a result of the marriage, the recipient may not remain eligible to receive disability benefits.
Death of the beneficiary
If a disability recipient passes away, the SSA will terminate both his or her SSDI and SSI benefits. However, if the recipient left behind a surviving spouse, children, or other dependents, the SSA may still provide survivors’ benefits to the recipient’s family.
Major change in living situation
A significant change in a disability recipient’s living situation may affect his or her eligibility for SSI. Such a change could include moving to a nursing home or assisted living facility, or entering the hospital for an extended stay. However, if the recipient can demonstrate to the SSA that this stay is not permanent and will occur for less than 90 days, the SSA will continue to give the recipient his or her disability benefits.
If you’re case is being reviewed
If you receive a notice from the SSA that your case is being reviewed, consider contacting an experienced disability attorney. Having a dedicated representative to help you through a CDR will help you keep your important disability benefits.