Some disabilities are temporary, or may have periods of remission, that allow you to work fully again for a period of time. If the time comes when the disability again prevents you from working, you can apply for an expedited reinstatement of your disability benefits.

Expedited Reinstatement of Benefits

Expedited Reinstatement of Benefits (EXR) allows disabled workers who returned to work and then had to stop working again, to restart disability benefits without having to reapply.
EXR applies to workers who were earning above the substantial gainful activity level (SGA) threshold, for longer than the nine-month trial work period that is allowed before your benefits are terminated. Your payments stop when your income rises above the SGA level — in 2018, that’s $1,180, or $1,970 for blind people.
If your application for EXR is approved, you will receive regular monthly disability payments again. The payments will stop if you return to work and earn above the SGA limit.

Are You Eligible for EXR?

If your income falls below the SGA level again, whether because you had to stop work completely, or work less than before, because of your medical condition, you can apply for EXR, if your situation meets these conditions:
  • Your benefits were terminated because your income rose above the SGA limit.
  • You are still disabled and unable to work above the SGA limit.
  • Your disability is the same or related to the original disability.
  • Your financial situation meets the Social Security Insurance asset and income limits.
  • Your disability hasn’t improved, since your original application for disability insurance.
  • You are applying for EXR within five years of the month your benefits stopped.

Applying for EXR

You need to complete several forms for Social Security and submit them to your local Social Security office to start your application for EXR:
  • Request to Reinstate Benefits, form SSA-371, which will calculate your start date for provisional benefits.
  • Work Activity Report, form SSA-820, which is information about your work history since benefits stopped.
  • Continuing Disability Report, form SSA-454-BK, for information about your disability.
  • Authorization to Release Medical Records, form SSA-827, to allow the Social Security agency to update your medical records.
Your local office will forward the forms to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) agency in your state, where your application will be reviewed to determine if you meet the disability standard to have your benefits reinstated — that is, you have the same disability as before, or one related to it, and it hasn’t improved.

Provisional Benefits

The DDS review can be lengthy, but once you apply for EXR, Social Security will begin to pay benefits, while you wait for the application to be processed. These provisional benefits include cash payments and Medicare coverage. The payments will be the same amount as you received before, adjusted for cost of living increases.
The interim benefits start for the month you applied for EXR and can be paid for up to six months, ending sooner if the decision about your EXR application is reached before six months is up. They will also end if you receive work earnings above the SGA level, or reach the full retirement age of 65 in the meantime.
If your application is denied, the provisional benefits usually don’t have to be paid back.

Appealing a Denial

If the application is denied, you have 60 days to file a Request for Reconsideration for DDS to look at your application again. If the Request for Reconsideration is denied, you have 60 days to ask for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge.
Similar to the appeals process for initial disability claims, you can speak on your own behalf when you appeal a denial for EXR.
Keep in mind, though, that statistics show that appeals are more likely to succeed if you are represented by a lawyer who has experience in SSD/SSI cases.