How long can my disability benefits last and is there anything I can do if they are terminated?
Author Attorney Greg Reed:
People who receive Social Security disability benefits often ask how long the payments will continue and if the benefits will expire. While some receive disability for a year or more, others receive benefits until they retire and Social Security takes over. If you are applying for disability or currently receiving benefits, it is important to be aware of how disability benefits can be terminated.
The Social Security Administration periodically reviews cases to determine if an individual is still disabled and eligible for benefits.
This is called a Continuing Disability Review (CDR). The frequency of these reviews depends on the severity of an individual’s condition but is required by law at least once every three years. The SSA will review an individual’s medical condition as well as their income, resources, and living arrangements. If at some point the SSA determines that an individual is no longer disabled, their benefits will stop.
Termination of disability benefits can occur for a number of reasons:
Perhaps the most likely reason disability benefits could be terminated is an individual has returned to work full-time and is earning SGA (Substantial Gainful Activity). However, this is not a black and white issue as a person could be earning less than SGA and still be denied benefits. The SSA may determine that your job duties constitute SGA if you are working a lot, even if you are earning less than the SGA amount. There is also an exception if a person returns to work in what is called “a Trial Work Period.” An individual can work nine months and still receive benefits, but if they are earning SGA at the end of the nine-month period, payments will stop.
If you have been denied disability benefits don’t give up! Contact a Disability lawyer at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and get the benefits you deserve.
The Social Security Administration may determine that an individual is no longer disabled or their medical condition has improved to a point where they are able to work. If your health has not improved and you are still disabled, no action will be taken.
The SSA must find one of the following before terminating benefits for medical reasons:
- You have benefitted from advances in medical and/or vocational therapy and are now able to perform SGA.
- Your impairment is found to be not as disabling as previously believed and you are able to engage in SGA.
- An earlier determination was in error. This can be demonstrated by evidence on the record or newly obtained evidence related to that determination.
When a person reaches retirement age, Social Security benefits will take over and disability payments will stop.
There are a few other circumstances under which the SSA may terminate benefits such as:
- You fail to respond to a CDR without good cause.
- You become incarcerated or institutionalized.
- You fail to follow prescribed medical treatment to restore work capacity.
If Social Security decides to terminate your benefits, they will send you a letter and your benefits will continue for two months.
You have 60 days to appeal the decision. If you would like your benefits to continue while your case is pending, you must file a reconsideration form within 10 days. The SSA can provide up to six months of provisional benefits during the appeal process. If you continue to receive benefits and your appeal is denied, you will be expected to pay back any payments you received during the time your case was pending.
If the SSA finds you are ineligible for benefits because of work at the SGA level, you may request a reinstatement of benefits at a later date, without filing a new application, if you become unable to work because of the same or a related medical condition, and you file a request for reinstatement with Social Security within 60 months from the date your benefits were terminated.
Appealing a termination of disability benefits is complicated and confusing and is best done under the guidance of an experienced disability attorney. If you need to appeal a termination of disability benefits or have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
Author: Attorney Greg Reed has been practicing law for 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Reed obtained board certification from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Greg is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and the United States Court of Appeals-Fifth Circuit. Mr. Reed is a member of the Travis County Bar Association, Texas Trial Lawyers Association, past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association, and an Associate member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Mr. Reed and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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