Factors That Can End Social Security Disability Benefits

Most people who are found disabled will receive SSI or Social Security disability benefits for many years, but there are six factors that can lead to a discontinuation of those benefits:

  • Return to workFactors That Can End Social Security Disability Benefits
  • Receipt of income or resources
  • Fraud
  • Medical improvement
  • Incarceration or institutionalization
  • Change in age category

Return to Work

Disability is defined as an inability to work. Therefore, if you return to work, your disability benefits might end. “Work” or “Substantial Gainful Activity” (SGA) is a term of art used by SSA, to describe work activity over and above a certain level.  In 2017 SGA is $1,170/month gross income (before taxes are taken out), or $1,950/month for blind persons.

If you are receiving Social Security Disability benefits (NOT SSI), you may be eligible for a “trial work period” (TWP) of up to 9 months. During a TWP you can work and keep both your paycheck and your disability benefit. If you earn $840 per month (in 2017), this will count as a trial work month. If you earn less, it will not count. The 9 months of trial work do not have to be consecutive, but after you have exhausted those 9 months, your disability will cease the next month that you earn SGA. You will then get two more months of benefits and then they will end. If, within 3 years of the end of your TWP, you have to stop working again because of your impairments, SSA may turn them back on again. This is your Extended Period of Eligibility, and you will need to ask for it when you apply.

The most important thing to remember is to advise SSA if you return to work, at any level. Do it in writing, and have them date-stamp a copy of the notice, in case you later need to prove you told them about it. If you do not report earned income, you may have a fraud problem.

Receipt of Income or Resources (SSI)

SSI is a needs based program (in contrast with Social Security Disability). If you are receiving SSI and you OR YOUR SPOUSE come into some money, through work, inheritance, lottery, tax return, gambling, legal settlement or gift (etc), you should go in and speak with SSA immediately. The same is true of anything of significant value, such as stocks, bonds, automobiles, real estate (etc) that could be liquidated.

Unearned income will reduce your SSI benefit dollar for dollar. Earned income will reduce your SSI benefit $1 for every $2 earned.

If you have resources in excess of $2,000, you do not qualify for any SSI that month. SSA can help you understand the rules and how they apply to your unique circumstances.

[Read More: Should I Try and Work During a SSD Review Process?]

Fraud

If you do not report income or resources, you may be found to have engaged in welfare fraud. In that event, your benefits will end, you will be assessed an overpayment, and you should contact a criminal attorney.

Medical Improvement

SSA will periodically review your case. This typically happens every 3 to 7 years, and is known as a “continuing disability review” (CDR). A CDR is usually less rigorous than the original application process, but if SSA determines that your condition has improved, and that you are now able to work, your benefits will end.

If you receive a CDR notice that you are no longer disabled, you may appeal that decision by filing a request for reconsideration within 60 days. If you wish to continue receiving your benefits while the appeal is pending, however, you must file it within 10 days.

The best way to stave off a discontinuation of benefits through CDR is to continue getting appropriate medical and/or mental health treatment for your disabling conditions. If you are not getting treatment, there will be an assumption that you do not need it because your conditions have improved.

[Read more: Social Security and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia]

Incarceration or Institutionalization

If you end up in prison or in an institution for 30 days or more, your benefits will be placed in suspension. If you are released within 12 months, the benefits can be reinstated, but if it is longer than 12 months you must reapply.

Change in Age Category

Turning 18: Children receiving SSI benefits will have their condition re-evaluated upon turning 18 according to adult eligibility requirement standards which can result in loss of benefits.

Reaching Retirement Age: When you reach normal retirement age, your Social Security Disability benefits (DIB) will be changed to Social Security Retirement benefits (RIB). You should not see much of a change, although depending on the circumstances of your work history, your RIB may be significantly different than the SSI benefit amount.

Most factors leading to a cessation of SSI or Social Security Disability benefits are fact-based, and are properly addressed by the SSA District Office. If you have any questions or concerns about the possible cessation of your benefits, or believe that SSA has made an error, you should contact an experienced  Social Security Disability Lawyer.

 

Social Security Disability Benefits Will Not See Cuts

 Social Security Disability Benefits Will Not See Cuts in 2016

We have all heard that Social Security funds have been running low for quite a long time. Because of this, many had thought or heard that a 20% reduction to benefits in the New Year would be necessary due to the Social Security Disability trust fund being so depleted by the end of 2016. However, as of November 9, 2015, this crisis has been averted by means of a new two year budget deal. This deal will shift tax revenues from the retirement program into the disability program. The amount of taxes paid by workers will not be affected by this shift. That’s right; no higher taxes will be requested or paid. Social Security Disability Benefits Will Not See Cuts

A Social Security tax of 12.4% is paid by most people who work, half of which is paid by the employer and half by the employee. The money pays beneficiaries of two different social security programs, SSD and Social Security Retirement. 1.8% of that amount is allotted to SSD and 10.6% is for SSR during the year of 2015. The bill of November 9 shifts .57% of that tax revenue from Social Security Retirement to SSD for the next three years. Making this shift increases the portion attributed to the disabled to 2.37% ensuring solvency through the year 2022.

There are a couple of other changes to Social Security including the closing of a loophole that allowed married couples to increase their SSR benefits, as well as increased funding for fraud investigations.

So, this is good news for now for those who benefit from Social Security Disability as well as for all of us tax payers! Thanks to November 9, 2015, 2016 is already shaping up to be a pretty decent year!

Social Security Benefits May See a Raise

You may have heard the buzz over recent years that the Social Security disability fund will run out of funds in 2016 unless something happens to change it. The Social Security Disability Insurance program and the Supplemental Security Income program are what people are referring to when they discuss Social Security disability. The money for benefits comes from the Social Security Administration’s disability fund and it’s the SSA that administers both these programs.Social Security Benefits May See a Raise

Additionally, there’s a Social Security retirement fund which pays Social Security retirement benefits to those people who are said to be collecting Social Security. The SSA administers both funds via tax withholdings maintained in separate funds due to their separate purposes. Until recently, however, if the money was getting low in one fund, it could simply borrow money from the other fund so that benefits were not reduced. This happened many times over the disibility program’s existence until a Congress passed a recent law.

Fixing this problem is not difficult with the current amount in the retirement fund being enough to last until 2034. If one year of funding were transferred out of the program, there’d be enough money for the retirement program to operate without a hitch until 2033, then the disability programs would have enough funding for at least 15 years. The reason for the large descrepency is that the number of those collecting retirement benefits far outweighs the number of those collecting disability benefits. Approximately 10 millions Americans collect disability.

However, although reallocating funds has previously worked well, it’s now harder to implement, since the GOP passed a regulation against this occurring, in a party line vote. One side of the issue vows not to fund the program unless major changes are made, yet they don’t indicate what changes need to be made. On the other side of the issue, people are urging the continuation of reallocation so that 10 million Americans don’t see their monthly income cut by 19%.

Forbes has published a recent article indicating that Congress is currently considering a proposal to increase Social Security disability benefits. This increase wouldn’t put an end to cuts in late 2016 but would increase individual benefits based on cost of living increases since the current level was set. Clearly, current disabled Americans could use more monthly income to meet their needs, however, it’ll be interesting to see if this proposal goes anywhere given the current issues with funding.

How to Identify SSA Frauds

SSA’s Fraud Police

You answer a knock on your door, and find two strangers, one of whom is dressed in a police officer’s uniform. They inform you that you may be the victim of Identity Theft, as your ID was found in a den of thieves. Cause for alarm? Yes, but not for the reason you think. If you have applied for Social Security Disability benefits, you are likely the victim of a Fraud Investigation by the CDIU.

The Cooperative Disability Investigations Unit (CDIU) was jointly established by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in 1998, to prevent fraud. There are currently 28 CDIUs in 24 states, including Washington State. They accept referrals from SSA employees, Administrative Law Judges (ALJ), third parties, and even “anonymous sources.” (www.oig.ssa.gov) If these people want to talk with you, it is because someone suspects that you are trying to defraud the SSA.

The “identity theft ruse” is designed to get invited into your home and to get you chatting with the investigators. Ironically, CDIU agents are allowed to lie to you, in an attempt to prove that you are lying to SSA. They will also talk with your neighbors, friends and family, and often videotape your activities without your knowledge.

Reports generated by the CDIU often contain half-truths and inappropriate conclusions. For example: “W2 stated that Mr. Smith did not appear at all disabled to her.” Unless the anonymous Witness #2 is your doctor, her opinion is irrelevant – and yet your disability claim may be denied based on this CDIU report.

If you have a current claim for SSI or Social Security Disability benefits, and you suspect you have been the target of a CDIU investigation, notify your representative right away. If you are unrepresented, ask SSA for a copy of the CDIU report and all the videotape and interview transcripts. Be prepared to discuss the allegations in the CDIU report with the ALJ at your disability hearing. Depending upon the circumstances, you may also consider speaking with a criminal defense attorney, as these fraud investigations sometimes lead to prison.

How Many Time Will I Have to File an Appeal for Social Security Disability?

How Many Time Will I Have to File an Appeal for Social Security Disability?

Usually, you need to file two appeals before you have a good chance of being approved for benefits. This is true in most states.How Many Time Will I Have to File an Appeal for Social Security Disability?

Most states require you to file a reconsideration request with Disability Determination Services before you can file a request for a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. Generally, if you’re denied on your initial claim for disability benefits, you will probably be denied on your first appeal (the reconsideration) as well. SSDI and SSI claims that are denied at the initial level will almost always need to be heard by an administrative law judge (ALJ) at a hearing before they can be approved. So, the answer is you will probably have to appeal twice, unless you’re in one of the few states that have repealed the reconsideration process.

Since reconsiderations are usually handled by the same agency that denied your initial claim, they deny your reconsideration as well. This agency is usually called something similar to Disability Determination Services (DDS) in most states. Some states have only one of these agencies while other states have many agencies of this type, all with very similar names. It’s this kind of agency that carries the responsibility of deciding for the Social Security Administration (SSA) which cases win or lose.

For DDS to approve a claim only weeks after denying it, pretty much means they’re admitting to errors in their decision on the initial claim. This is why DDS very rarely approves a reconsideration.

Because reconsiderations are denied 80 to 85% of the time, disability representatives will often tell their claimants to expect a denial and to expect on needing to see a judge at a hearing before their case can be won and benefits approved.