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Disability Status how do I keep it?

If you have fought months or years to get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) you may be concerned that at some point the Social Security Administration (SSA) will decide you are no longer disabled and terminate your SSDI benefits. Recently on our disability forum we had a user ask, “If I have won SSDI benefits how do I maintain my disability status and ensure the SSA does not terminate my benefits?”

When can the SSA change your disability status and terminate SSDI?

Although SSDI should be viewed as a permanent disability benefit, the SSA does have specific instances where they will terminate your benefits. Let’s take a look at actions which can change your disability status and can result lost SSDI benefits.

1.    Working too much can change your disability status

The most common reason a claimant will lose their disability status is because they decide they can return to full-time employment. For instance, if you begin working and making at least $720 (gross earnings) or you are self-employed and you put in a minimum of 80 hours that month working in your own business you will trigger a “trial work month.”

Consider, however, a trial work period is limited to nine months within a rolling 60-month period.  If you work and use up your trial work period 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. If go past the allotted time your SSDI benefits will be terminated.

2.    The SSA determines you are no longer disabled and changes your disability status

The SSA is required to perform a continuing disability review periodically for most SSDI claimants. If after the continuing disability review the SSA determines you are no longer disabled you can have your SSDI disability status changed and lose your SSDI benefits. Consider, however, you have rights to challenge the Social Security Administration’s decision.

3.       Going to prison can terminate your SSDI benefits

If you are sent to prison you will lose your SSDI benefits.

4.       You have reached your full retirement age.

Although your disability status does not necessarily change when you reach your full retirement age, your SSDI payment will be automatically converted to a SSA retirement benefit. You will not receive BOTH SSDI and SSA retirement at the same time.

Bottom Line about your Disability Status

The good news is you generally have control over your disability status. Consider, most claimants lose benefits because they return to work and do not understand the Trial Work Period program or they have recovered to the point they can work full-time.

There is a chance that you could lose your benefits after a continuing disability review so the best thing to do is make sure you continue to receive adequate medical care and have recent medical records which clearly indicate you do not have the ability to work.
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