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Can I lose my SSDI benefits?

If you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or you have been receiving benefits for years you may have wondered if you need to be concerned about losing your SSDI benefits. This is a real concern because failure to understand the SSDI process could put your SSDI benefits in jeopardy. With this in mind there are several ways you could lose your SSDI benefits.

 1.    You return to work performing substantial gainful activity.

Unfortunately, the SSDI does not offer any type of partial disability benefits and returning to work and making too much money or working too many hours can jeopardize your SSDI benefits. Does this mean you cannot work at all? No, but understanding what the SSA considers work is critical. Too many workers return to work without first consulting with the SSA.

Basically, if you to earn $720 (gross earnings) in a month you will trigger a “trial work month.” The claimant can have trial work months but they are limited to nine months within a rolling 60-month period. If you work and use up your trial work months you have an additional 36 months of work eligibility, as long as your earnings are not “substantial.” That is defined as income over $1,010 for the non-blind or $1,680 if you are blind. Claimants who start having substantial earnings or who pass the extended 36 month period will have their SSDI benefits terminated.

2.    You reach your full retirement age.

We get questions everyday on our forum from SSDI recipients who are confused about why they lost their SSDI benefits when they reached their full retirement age. If you reach your full retirement age your SSDI benefits are automatically converted to retirement benefits. You do NOT receive both SSDI and SSA retirement benefits. Questions regarding retirement can be directed to the SSA at 1-800-772-1213.

3.    The SSA performs a Continuing Disability Review and determines you are no longer disabled.

Losing your SSDI benefits through a Continuing Disability Review is probably the most confusing issue to an applicant. The Continuing Disability Review can be a bit intimidating, but the most important thing is to continue to get good medical care and maintain updated medical records, respond to all requests for periodic reviews from the SSA and go to any evaluations that they require. Keep in mind, if you do lose your SSDI benefits you have the right to talk to a disability lawyer and submit challenges to the SSA about their decision to terminate your SSDI benefits.

4.    You are sent to prison.

You will continue to receive your SSDI benefits until you have been convicted of a criminal offense and you are in prison for 30 days. This means your SSDI benefits will stop on the 31st day of your incarceration. For example, if you are arrested on March 3, your SSDI benefits would stop on April 2.

So the general rule is that you should expect to receive SSDI benefits until you are able to return to work or you reach your full retirement age. Occasionally, due to a medical improvement in your condition the SSA may determine you are no longer disabled and will terminate your SSDI benefits after a Continuing Disability Review. Otherwise, stay out of prison and you should be fine.



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