Social security disability (SSD) benefits are a federal insurance program that provides monthly benefits to eligible workers whose disability prevents them from working. Social security disability benefits are only paid for long-term disability. The Social Security Administration (SSA), the federal agency that administers the SSD program, considers a long-term disability one that has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months or result in your death. In addition, the disability must interfere with your ability to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA). The SGA amount changes annually. In 2023, the SSA considers a person engaged in substantial gainful activity if they earn more than $1,470 per month, or $2,460 if they are statutorily blind.
If you earn above the SGA threshold, other than during a trial work period, eligibility for benefits will end. If, however, the disability later prevents you from performing SGA, you can apply to get disability benefits reinstated without going through the entire application process again.
Expedited Reinstatement of Social Security Disability Benefits
Social security disability benefits end if your disability improves to the point that you can perform SGA or if you exceeded the monthly SGA amount, whether due to earned income, unearned income, or a combination of the two. If the SSA terminated your benefits because of excess income, but you once again find yourself unable to perform SGA, you may be eligible for expedited reinstatement of benefits (EXR). Watch our short video to learn more.
EXR is only available to people who were already approved for and receiving disability benefits. It is not for people who are newly disabled and in immediate need of benefits. In those cases, consider applying for disability benefits under a quick disability determination or compassionate allowance. You are eligible to apply for EXR if all the following apply:
- Stopped receiving benefits because of earnings from work (other than income earned during a Trial Work Period).
- Are unable or becomes unable to perform SGA during the month the application for EXR is filed.
- Are unable to continue to perform SGA due to your disability.
- The disability is the same as, or related to, your original disability.
- You request expedited reinstatement within five years from the month disability benefits ended.
It is important to note that to be eligible for EXR, the disability that prevents you from working must be the same or substantially related to the disability that qualified you for SSD benefits in the first place. For example, if you were approved for benefits because you had a heart transplant, but are now unable to work due to injuries sustained in a car accident, you are ineligible to apply for expedited reinstatement of benefits. That’s because the two conditions, though both disabling, are unrelated. You would need to reapply for SSD benefits due to the car accident.
If, however, you returned to work following a heart transplant but, two years later, complications made you unable to continue working, you would be eligible to apply for EXR because the current disability is substantially related to the original qualifying disability.
Applying for EXR
Reinstatement of benefits is not automatic. You must provide the SSA with updated medical and work information, which will then be forwarded to your local disability determination services (DDS) office for review. To begin the process, you will need to submit the following forms:
- Request to Reinstate Benefits: This is a simple form asking SSD to expedite the reinstatement of your benefits. It also calculates the start date for provisional benefits.
- Work Activity Report: This form provides the SSA information regarding your work history since disability benefits were terminated.
- Continuing Disability Review (CDR) Report: This form provides updated information regarding your disability. This is the same form SSA requires disability benefits recipients to complete as part of the regular CDR process.
- Authorization to Disclose Information: This form grants the SSA permission to obtain your medical and other records relevant to EXR request.
You will receive provisional (temporary) benefits while DDS reviews your EXR request. The monthly provisional benefit will be the same amount as your previous disability benefits, adjusted for any cost-of-living increases SSA has enacted since benefits ended. You may also be eligible for Medicare, provided you received it before your benefits were terminated.
You will receive provisional benefits for six months or when your EXR application is approved, whichever is sooner. If your earnings during the EXR consideration period rise above SGA levels, provisional benefits will also end. In most cases, you won’t need to reimburse the SSA any provisional benefits paid if your EXR application is denied.
Appealing a Denial
Like the initial SSD application, you may file an appeal if the SSA denies your request for EXR. You have 60 days from the date of denial to submit a request for reconsideration. If the request for reconsideration is denied, you have another 60 days to request an administrative hearing.
Social Security Disability Attorney
Although you may apply for EXR on your own, an experienced SSD attorney can improve the chances that your application is approved. A disability attorney understands what information the SSA needs to properly evaluate your request and the best way to present it. If your request is denied, they can also help prepare you for the appeals process. And, your attorney only gets paid if your application is approved.
The Good Law Group offers a free, initial consultation to evaluate your disability claim. Call us at 800-419-7606 to schedule a consultation.
* Note this does not include individuals who attempted to return to work under the trial work period.