Get the Help You Need to Fight Termination of Your Social Security Disability Benefits
When you successfully file for Social Security disability (SSD) or supplemental security income (SSI), your benefits are not permanent. You are only entitled to receive benefits for as long as you remain eligible; and, if you become ineligible, the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) can take your benefits away.
But, if you have received written notice of termination, this does not mean that you should simply accept the SSA’s decision. It is possible to fight the termination of SSD and SSI benefits in many cases. If you are still eligible, or if you can reestablish your eligibility, then you deserve to continue receiving your benefits for as long as you need them.
When Can Social Security Terminate SSD or SSI Benefits (or Both)?
The SSA can terminate Social Security disability and supplemental security income benefits for a variety of different reasons. If you are facing termination of benefits, it is important to understand why. This will determine what options you have available, and it will determine what you need to do in order to protect your benefits—if you are able to do so.
Some of the most common reasons for termination of SSD and SSI benefits include:
- You are No Longer Disabled – The SSA conducts Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) for all SSD recipients. Most recipients have to undergo CDRs every three years, but they can be more or less frequent in some cases. If the SSA determines that you are no longer disabled due to a qualifying illness based on a CDR, it can terminate your benefits.
- You are Working Too Much – Even if you are still considered disabled for Social Security purposes, you can lose your SSD benefits if you are working too much. This can involve working too many hours, working in a strenuous job, or earning more than the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level (which is $1,350 as of 2022 for most individuals). You can also lose your SSI benefits if you accumulate too much savings through your work (more than $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples).
- Your Income or Assets Increased – Regardless of how much you are working the SSA can terminate your SSI benefits if your income or assets exceed the eligibility threshold. This can result from gifts (including “in-kind” gifts of food, clothing, and certain other necessities), inheritances, and the receipt of other types of government benefits.
- You Turned 18 – The SSA reexamines minors’ SSI eligibility when they turn 18. It can also terminate minors’ benefits at age 18 if they were receiving benefits due to their parent’s disability or death.
- You Were Incarcerated – The SSA terminates SSD benefits immediately upon a recipient’s conviction for a crime resulting in imprisonment, and it terminates SSI benefits after one month of incarceration.
- You Are Being Accused of Fraud – Fraud is, unfortunately, a very real problem for the SSA. If the SSA suspects that you may have submitted false or misleading information in support of your application for SSD or SSI benefits, it can terminate your benefits immediately.
Avoiding Termination of Social Security Disability
Let’s say you have received a notice of termination from the SSA. What can you do to avoid termination of your Social Security disability or supplemental security income benefits? As we mentioned above, the answer to this question depends on why the SSA has decided to terminate your benefits.
In most cases, the SSA terminates benefits based on lack of disability. If the SSA is proposing to terminate your benefits because it has determined you are longer disabled, protecting your benefits will involve demonstrating you are still disabled. Typically, this means seeing a doctor who can confirm your condition and provide medical records which you (or your attorney) can submit to the SSA.
Proposed SSI terminations also commonly result from changes in recipients’ income and assets. If your income or assets have increased above the SSI eligibility threshold, you potentially have multiple options available. For example, you may be able to:
- Sell some of your assets and use the cash to buy items that do not qualify as “resources” for purposes of determining SSI eligibility
- Establish an ABLE account or an individual development account (IDA)
- Create (and obtain SSA approval for) a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)
- Establish a special needs trust
Regarding other grounds for proposed termination, your options here are circumstance-specific. For example, if the SSA has determined you are working too much, you may be able to challenge this determination. Or, if your benefits are being terminated because you turned 18, you may be able to apply for continuing benefits on new grounds.
Fighting for Reinstatement After Termination of Social Security Disability
If the SSA has already terminated your SSD or SSI benefits, you can hire an attorney to help you file for reinstatement. If you have lost your SSD benefits, you only have 60 days from the date of termination to file an appeal. While you have longer to seek reinstatement of SSI, waiting is not your best option—especially if you rely on your SSI benefits to pay your bills.
If you are no longer eligible to file an appeal for reinstatement, you can file a new application. This essentially starts the process over. As a result, it is generally best to file an appeal if you can, and we encourage you to contact us promptly if you need to fight to restore your Social Security disability or supplemental security income benefits. If you have lost (or are at risk of losing) your SSD or SSI benefits, you have options, and you owe it to yourself and your family to make sure you receive the benefits you deserve.
Request a Free Consultation with Attorney Emmett B. Irwin
For more information about fighting termination of your Social Security disability (SSD and/or SSI) benefits, please contact us to arrange a free consultation. Call 443-839-0818 or get in touch online to speak with attorney Emmett B. Irwin in confidence.