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Lost disability, how do I get my benefits back?

Many claimants on the forum have had SSDI or SSI benefits at one time and have lost their benefits. Sometime these applicants have attempted to return to work and have been unable or they did something that caused their benefits to be terminated, leaving many of them wondering, “Can I ever get my disability benefits back?”

The answer to the question, however, is not simple and it really depends on why you lost your benefits. For some applicants the reinstatement process may be very simple; for others, it may be impossible.

Let’s review the reasons you may have lost benefits for SSDI or SSI.

Reasons SSDI or SSI may be terminated

1.    You return to work performing substantial gainful activity.

Many SSDI recipients may decide to attempt to return to work. The SSA encourages this and has created a program called the Trial Work Program that will allow you to return to work and continue to receive SSDI for a specific amount of time.

Many claimants return to work without consulting with the SSA or do not understand how the Trial Work Program works and eventually have their SSDI benefits terminated. Applicants who work for awhile but realize they are unable to continue to work may have their SSDI benefits automatically reinstated (without having to go through the full application process again) if they meet the following requirements:

According to the Social Security Administration you may have your Social Security Disability Insurance benefits reinstated if you after a work attempt if:

  • Stopped receiving benefits because of earnings from work,

  • Are unable to work or perform substantial gainful activity,

  • Are disabled because of an impairment(s) that is the same as or related to the impairment(s) that allowed you to get benefits earlier, and you

  • Make the request within 5 years from the month your Social Security Disability Insurance benefits ended.

If you do not meet the requirements outlined above you would have to reapply for SSDI.

2.    You reach your full retirement age.

SSDI applicants will also have their SSDI benefits automatically converted to SSA retirement benefits when they reach the full retirement age. There seems to be some confusion about why this happens, but it is clearly stated in SSA policy. SSDI claimants WILL NOT get SSDI and SSA retirement at the same time. If this is why your SSDI benefits stopped there is no way to get them reinstated; you will not only receive SSA retirement benefits.

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

Claimants may have their SSDI and SSI benefits terminated after a Continuing Disability Review. This type of termination is because the SSA has determined you are no longer disabled. This termination, however, can be challenged and you have rights throughout the entire process, including hiring a disability lawyer. If you lost your SSDI or SSI benefits after a Continuing Disability Review you may reapply, but it may be difficult to have them reinstated and the process may be time-consuming.

4.    You are sent to prison.

Whether you are receiving SSI or SSDI if you are in prison your benefits will be suspended. For SSI if you are incarcerated for more than 12 consecutive months your SSI benefits will be terminated by the Social Security Administration and you will have to submit a new SSI application to the SSA when you are released.

If you are receiving SSDI your benefits will be terminated after 30 days of incarceration, but you remain “on the rolls” and can have your benefits reinstated upon release (without going through the entire application process again), regardless of the release date.


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