What Could Cause Your SSDI Benefits to Stop?
Securing SSDI can take months or years. Once you’ve worked your way through the system and started receiving Social Security disability benefits, it would be nice to think you can rely on those benefits continuing. That’s mostly true, but there are a few events or actions that can terminate your SSDI eligibility.
Here’s what you need to know about when and why you could lose Social Security disability benefits.
Reasons for Terminating SSDI
You could lose your SSDI benefits because:
You’re earning too much money.
For SSDI purposes, the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers only income from work. So, you don’t have to worry about losing benefits because you’ve built up too much equity in your home or received an inheritance from a relative, or even won the lottery. But, if you’re working or self-employed and generate too much income, you can be disqualified from receiving SSDI benefits.
The good news is that the SSA understands that you can’t afford to try to work if you’re going to get cut off as soon as you have a month of substantial earnings. So, they offer a program that allows SSDI recipients to test out working and make sure they’ll be able to continue working and earning before benefits are affected.
In short, SSA allows a trial work period of nine months in any 60 month period. That means nine months in which you can earn more than the cut-off amount (in 2023, it’s $1,050/month before taxes) without losing benefits. The months need not be consecutive. If you earn more than $1,050/month for six months and then suffer a setback and aren’t able to continue working, it’s no harm, no foul. Your benefits continue uninterrupted. If you successfully complete nine trial months, that puts you on a path toward terminating benefits. But, it doesn’t happen immediately–there’s a transitional period when you can still receive benefits, and an extended period of medical coverage.
Your medical condition has improved.
SSDI benefits are intended to provide ongoing income for workers who have become disabled and are unable to support themselves. If that situation changes and your medical condition improves sufficiently that you can go back to being self-supporting, you’ll no longer qualify. Periodically the SSA conducts a continuing disability review (CDR) to determine whether or not you are still considered disabled by their standards.
How often your case will be reviewed depends on a variety of factors, including your age, the nature of your disability, and your earnings while on SSDI. One study of data across a 10-year period found that about 5.7% of SSDI recipients who were subjected to a full medical review lost benefits as a result.
If the SSA determines that you are no longer eligible after a CDR, you will have the opportunity to appeal that decision. Time is limited, though–you’ll have just 60 days to request a hearing. So, you’ll want to talk to an experienced disability benefits advocate right away if you get a notice that your benefits are being terminated.
You’ve reached full retirement age.
Of all the reasons your SSDI benefits could be terminated, this one is the least disruptive. When you reach full retirement age, you will no longer qualify for Social Security disability benefits, but you will generally immediately qualify for retirement benefits. For most people, SSDI transitions seamlessly to Social Security retirement benefits with no gap in payments or action required on your part.
You’re residing in certain other countries.
Generally, SSDI benefits will continue for a qualified recipient who is a U.S. citizen living outside the United States. However, there are a few countries where the SSA can’t send payments. The countries where you cannot receive Social Security payments may change as a result of U.S. Treasury Department sanctions, so if you are receiving SSDI and considering a move overseas, be sure to seek out current information about your ability to receive payments in that country.
You’ve been incarcerated or have certain other criminal issues.
There are a few different ways a criminal conviction can impact your eligibility for SSDI. For example, your SSDI benefits may be temporarily interrupted if you are incarcerated, if you are in violation of probation or parole, or if there is an outstanding warrant for your arrest for certain crimes.
You aren’t cooperating with the SSA.
Your Social Security disability benefits may be suspended and ultimately terminated if you fail or refuse to provide information requested by the SSA. For example, if you do not provide requested medical information to help the SSA determine whether or not you are still disabled, your benefits may stop. If you are having trouble assembling the information requested or have other obstacles, don’t put your benefits at risk–get help from an SSDI advocate as quickly as possible.
You are deceased.
It’s probably obvious that your disability benefits won’t continue after your death. But, it bears mentioning that dependents of the deceased disabled worker may be eligible for survivors’ benefits.
You made false statements or withheld information.
Benefits aren’t technically terminated as a result of false statements or withholding information. However, the SSA may impose a penalty that results in the withholding of benefits for six, 12, or 24 months. This penalty will not suspend or terminate Medicare or Medicaid benefits you are entitled to in connection with your SSDI eligibility.
Protect Your SSDI Benefits
The terminations described above affect a small percentage of SSDI recipients. But, losing your disability benefits can have a devastating impact on your finances. The first step toward preserving your benefits is ensuring that you understand your obligations, work limitations, and other variables that can impact your eligibility. If you do find yourself facing termination or suspension of your benefits, talk to an experienced disability benefits advocate right away. You may be able to appeal SSA’s decision, but your time to act is limited. Call us right now at (800) 800-3332, or fill out our contact form to learn more.