WHEN DO SSDI BENEFITS END?
WHAT ARE THE REASONS THAT SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY BENEFITS END?
There are a number of reasons why Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can end.
This article will discuss the four most common reasons for an end to your Social Security Disability benefits. The first event that usually ends SSDI benefits is an improvement in your disabling medical condition. The second is a return to work. Third, is incarceration in jail or prison. The fourth reason for an end to your SSDI benefits is the conversion of your monthly payment into retirement benefits. This will occur at your full retirement age.
How long you receive Social Security Disability benefits is determined by whether any of the above factors occur. For example, you could receive Social Security Disability benefits in 2019 and those benefits could go under review in 2022. If the Social Security Administration decides you are no longer disabled, then your benefits could end.
The SSA reviews your SSDI and SSI cases on a regular basis to see if you are still disabled. These reviews are called Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR) and everyone who receives Social Security Disability benefits will have a review at some point in time. If the SSA decides you can return to work, then your benefits will end.
CONTINUING DISABILITY REVIEWS CAN END BENEFITS
When you have a CDR depends on whether or not the SSA expects your medical condition to improve. For example, perhaps you have a back condition, like degenerative arthritis in your lumbar spine, and you have surgery for it. The SSA may expect your condition to improve within a year of your surgery. So, they will review your case to see if you are better and can return to work. Usually an early review, such as the above example, will be what the judge recommends in her award of benefits.
The SSA usually reviews cases every 3 years or every 7 years, depending on your medical condition and your chances of improvement. In order to end your benefits, the SSA needs to find that there has been medical improvement in your condtiion. The evidence also needs to show that you can return to work.
If your condition has not medically improved, then your benefits will continue. Even where medical improvement occurs, in most cases the SSA must also show that you are currently able to engage in substantial gainful activity before they can end your benefits.
Medical improvement occurs when your medical symptoms improve. They look at what symptoms were present at the time of the most recent favorable medical decision in your case. The SSA will look at the severity of your symptoms found in your medical records to find if should still be paid benefits. You are required to submit all of your medical records to the SSA at the time of your review.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOUR BENEFITS END BECAUSE OF AN SSA REVIEW?
If the SSA stops paying you monthly disability benefits after a continuing disability review, then you have a few options. You can agree with them and return to work. Or, if you disagree with the SSA’s decision, then you can appeal the CDR cessation decision.
If you tried to return to work and your attempt to work failed, then you might be able to get your benefits reinstated. This is called expedited reinstatement. It makes sense to file for expedited reinstatement if your benefits end, because while you await SSA’s decision, they pay you provisional benefits. If you file a new application, instead of filing for expedited reinstatement, you will not get provisional benefits.
You can apply for expedited reinstatement the same month you stop working. But there is a five year limit on you ability to file for expedited reinstatement.
There are times when it is best to file a new application after your benefits end. For example, if your earnings were much higher while you were working than prior to receiving benefits, you might want to file a new application. The reason being that your new benefit amount might be higher due to your recent earnings. A higher monthly benefit amount will be helpful to you if you don’t expect to return to work any time soon. Before you make a choice between filing for expedited reinstatement and filing a new application, check with your attorney. If you need to know how to check the on the status of your benefits, read here.
IF YOU RETURN TO WORK, YOUR SSDI & SSI BENEFITS WILL END
SSDI EARNED INCOME LIMITS
If you are disabled but not blind, the SSA has set the limit for the amount you can earn at $1,350 per month in 2022. In 2023, the new amount you can earn per month will be $1470. The maximum amount you can earn and still receive benefits is called substantial gainful activity (SGA). The SGA amount goes up every year and includes all of your wages in a given month before taxes are taken out or your “gross” monthly earnings. If you can work at the SGA level, the SSA will assume you can continue to work and they will end your benefits.
The SGA amount for SSDI recipients who are blind is higher than for those with a different medical condition. The earned income limit for those who are blind in 2022 is $2,260 per month. In 2023, that amount is $2460. Again, any earnings above that amount will exceed the SGA limit. Therefore, the SSA will end your SSDI benefits if you earn above the SGA limit.
SSI EARNED INCOME LIMITS
The substantial gainful activity limit does NOT apply to people who receive SSI benefits.
Instead, the SSA has set an income limit for people who receive SSI benefits that is based on the federal benefit rate (FBR). In 2022, the maximum FBR possible is $841 per month for an individual and $1,261 for a couple. Therefore, if your “countable income” is more than the FBR, your SSI benefits will end. If you need to learn more information about SSI benefits, then read our article, “SSI Benefits – What You Need to Know.” Additionally, SSI benefits can end if you get married. To learn more about marriage and how it may impact your SSI benefits, read here.
SOCIAL SECURITY’S TRIAL WORK PERIOD
The SSA, once you receive SSDI benefits, allows you to try to work for a limited time without ending your benefits. The SSA wants to see you return to work if you can. Therefore, they let you try to work without risking your benefits, to see if you can return to work on an ongoing basis. This is known as a trial work period.
SSDI BENEFITS AND THE TRIAL WORK PERIOD
If you’re getting SSDI benefits, then the SSA allows a nine month trail work period. You can make as much money as you want for nine months and your SSDI benefit will not end. However, those 9 months occur within a 5 year period. This means that your 9 months do not need to occur in a row to count.
After you’ve worked for nine months in a 5 year period, the SSA will look at the amount of your earnings in your tenth month of working. If the work you are doing earns you more money than the SGA amount, then you won’t receive benefits for that month. Learn more about the trial work period here.
SSI AND THE PASS PROGRAM
If you get SSI benefits, then you can take part in a Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS). This is a plan to go back to work that you develop with the help of the SSA. While you are working under the PASS program, any money you earn is not counted toward the SSI income limits. Therefore, those earnings will not reduce your SSI benefits.
SOCIAL SECURITY’S TICKET TO WORK PROGRAM
Whether you’re getting SSDI or SSI benefits, the SSA has a Ticket-to-Work program where you can get training to help you find a job that you can do. Under this program, the SSA issues you “tickets.” You can turn those tickets into an employment network to receive work services, vocational rehabilitation services, or other services you may need in order to return to work. The SSA will stop a CDR while you are part of the Ticket to Work program. Therefore, even if you’re making more than the SGA amount, it will not count against you.
INCARCERATION IN JAIL OR PRISON CAN END BENEFITS
Improvement of one’s condition is not the only reason Social Security Benefits can be revoked. You might also lose your Social Security Disability benefits if you end up in prison. If you are in jail for more than 30 days, your Social Security Disability benefits will stop. However, being sent to prison or jail does not end your Social Security Disability benefits forever. If you get out of jail, then you can have your SSDI benefits reinstated at that time.
Social Security Disability benefits may also end if a person decides to go back to work and can earn a substantial income. If that is the case, you would no longer be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits but you may be entitled to Social Security retirement benefits once you reach the age of 65. If you do decide to return to work your benefits will not stop right away. You can earn income on a “trial” basis for up to nine months before your Social Security Disability benefits are revoked. If you try to return to work and find that you are unable to cope with it, your Social Security Benefits will not end.
RETIREMENT WILL END YOUR SSDI BENEFITS
When a person reaches full retirement age, their SSDI benefit will turn into regular Social Security retirement benefits. This rule applies to both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Your full retirement age can range between 65 and 67 years of age. The date you can retire and get all of your benefits, depends on the month and year of your birth. People born after 1942 have a full retirement age of 66 years or older. Those born in 1960 or later must wait until they are 67 years old to start collecting full retirement benefits.
Your monthly benefit amount does not change when it converts into Social Security retirement benefits. The only thing that will change your monthly retirement amount will be cost of living adjustments. Your monthly SSDI benefit amount is the same amount of money you would receive at your full retirement age, no matter how old you are when you became disabled.
The SSA also lets you get Medicare benefits early if you receive SSDI benefits. You can get Medicare benefits after a 29 month waiting period from your onset date of disability, even if you are not yet 65 years old. You can learn more information about Medicare benefits here.
One thing to be aware of is this: your retirement benefits do not go up if your health gets worse. Your retirement, just like SSDI benefits, is based on your own personal earnings record. Therefore, except for federal cost of living increases (which are small), your benefit doesn’t increase with age or illness. Learn more about whether your Social Security benefits can increase here.
YOUR SSDI BENEFITS WILL CONVERT TO RETIREMENT BENEFITS
You need to understand that your Social Security Disability benefits do convert to Social Security Retirement benefits once you reach your full retirement age. However, your monthly benefit will not change. You will continue to receive a monthly check. Also, you do not need to do anything in order to receive your benefits. The SSA will simply change your SSDI benefit into a retirement benefit once you reach full retirement age. When you reach that age, however, can vary depending on the year in which you were born.
WHAT IS YOUR FULL RETIREMENT AGE?
Only people born before 1937 receive full Social Security retirement benefits upon turning 65. Congress extended full retirement age for the rest of us. People born in 1955 (turning 65 in 2020) must wait until they are 66 years and 2 months old before they reach “full retirement age.” Here is the rest of the breakdown of how old you must be to reach Social Security’s full retirement age according to your year of birth:
- Born in 1956 – 66 years, 4 months old
- 1957 – 66 years, 6 months old
- 1958 – 66 years, 8 months old
- 1959 – 66 years, 10 months old
- 1960 and later – 67 years old
HOW TO KEEP YOUR SSDI BENEFITS
If you are disabled and not working until you reach the age of 65, then you will be able to keep your Social Security Disability benefits until you reach retirement age. You do not need to take out early retirement benefits to have an income. When you reach full retirement age, your SSDI payments will change into Social Security Retirement payments. It is important, however, to understand that you need to take steps to ensure you are able to keep your SSDI benefits in effect for the duration of that period.
First, you need to continue to document your medical condition. This means keep seeing your doctor. A statement from your doctor about your health and your medical records are the evidence that the SSA will use to do a Continuing Disability Review. If you refuse to respond to a review, you may lose your SSDI benefits. Make sure you respond to SSA’s notices and send them your medical records.
Additionally, if the SSA decides to send you to a Consultative Examination, make sure that you attend the appointment. Learn more information about your Consultative Exam here.
HOW MUCH MONEY CAN YOU EARN AND STILL RECEIVE SOCIAL SECURITY RETIREMENT BENEFITS?
If you retire early (prior to full retirement age) while you’re still working, Social Security may withhold part of your monthly retirement benefit depending on your income.
Social Security will withhold benefits at the following rate in 2022:
- If you are under full retirement age for the entire year, the SSA will deduct $1 in benefits for every $3 you earn above the earnings limit. In 2022, the limit on earnings is $51,960.
This rule applies whether you are an older worker taking benefits based on your own work record or you’re getting a spousal benefit or a survivor benefit. After the date you reach full retirement age, you can earn as much money as you want and still keep all your benefits. Earlier, though, you will give up some of your benefits.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE MONEY SSA WITHHOLDS?
SSA will figure out the appropriate amount that they will withhold, based on your earnings, and then take it out of your monthly retirement benefits. It is possible for the SSA to withhold your entire monthly benefit check. For example, if you normally get Social Security of $1,000 per month but you have to forfeit $3,000 due to earnings, then the SSA will hold back three months worth of checks.
Even though you would lose three months of checks, there is a payback. For example, if the SSA withholds one month worth of benefits, then the SSA will treat you as if you retired a month later than you did. Once you reach full retirement age, you will get a larger monthly check based on the later retirement date. You might not get all your withheld money back from the SSA, but the larger checks will pay some of your money back.
WHAT WE DO TO HELP YOU WIN SSDI AND SSI BENEFITS
You do not need to try to figure out your benefits by yourself. Cannon Disability can help you file your disability application. Also, we can help you appeal every SSA denial. For example, our attorneys and staff can:
- Send you the paperwork you need to become our client
- Help you file your application for SSD and SSI benefits
- Inform the SSA that they should automatically pay your benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Rules
- Request reconsideration if you receive an initial denial from Disability Determination Services
- Help you confirm your attendance at a Consultative Examination
- Request a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Prepare you to be a good witness at your SSA hearing
- Represent you at your hearing and question the vocational and medical witnesses.
- Read more about vocational experts here
- Learn more about medical expert testimony here
- Request review of an unfavorable decision with the Appeals Council
- Request review of an Appeals Council denial in Federal Court
If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back. If you don’t send it back, the SSA will not process your application.
CANNON DISABILITY’S ATTORNEYS & STAFF
If you want to learn more about the lawyers and staff at Cannon Disability Law you can go to our About Us page. For example, you may want to know that Dianna Cannon has been helping people win Social Security benefits for thirty years. Brett Bunkall and Andria Summers have also won thousands of SSDI and SSI cases.
In the past 30 years, we have won over 20,000 SSDI and SSI cases for our clients. Our lawyers and staff can help you apply for benefits using the SSA’s website. Likewise, if you need to file an appeal, we can help you do that too. There are also many forms to fill out for the SSA. Don’t worry. If you have questions about these forms, we will answer them. You can learn more about SSA’s appeal forms here. Call us today.
We have won over $100 million in ongoing and past due benefits for our clients. Also, we represent our clients in many states, including Nevada, Utah, and Idaho. Find out more about Nevada disability benefits here. Learn more about Utah disability benefits and California disability benefits here. No matter where you live, we want to be your legal team. Hire the team with years of legal experience to help you. Call us now. We will answer your questions about SSDI benefits, retirement, and other events that may cause your SSDI benefits to end.