How To Reinstate Suspended Social Security Disability Benefits?
The Social Security Administration has two disability programs that pay benefits to people unable to work because of medical conditions causing physical or mental impairments. Being approved for benefits through the Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance programs is a frustrating and challenging experience. Fewer than one-third of applications receive approval on initial review.
If you are fortunate enough to be approved for Social Security disability benefits, the last thing you want is to have them suspended. Losing benefits can be devastating when you are disabled and unable to work.
The best way to deal with suspended Social Security disability benefits is to learn as much as you can about the reasons suspensions occur and what you can do to get them reinstated. The disability lawyers at the Clauson Law Firm put together this blog post explaining how Social Security disability works, why benefits may be suspended, and the process available to help you reinstate them.
How Does The Supplemental Security Income Program Work?
Supplemental Security Income or SSI is a need-based benefits program managed through the Social Security Administration in partnership with the states. SSI pays monthly benefits to adults and children who are blind or disabled and adults aged 65 and older.
Applicants must have limited income and resources to qualify for SSI because the monthly payments are intended to help recipients pay for food, shelter, and other essential needs. The program is funded by general funds of the United States Treasury from collecting taxes, such as personal income and corporate taxes.
SSI benefits are not paid from Social Security taxes, so you may qualify for benefits without having a prior work record as is required to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI benefits. Another difference between SSI and SSDI is that SSI recipients may qualify for medical assistance through Medicaid. SSDI recipients receive medical assistance through Medicare after receiving benefit payments for at least 24 months.
If you are younger than age 65, you must be blind or disabled to qualify for SSI benefits. A disability must meet the following requirements:
- Be a medically determinable physical or mental impairment expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.
- Prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity or severely limit daily activities in the case of children.
How Does The Social Security Disability Insurance Program Work?
First and foremost, you must have a work record at jobs or through self-employment where you paid Social Security taxes on the income you derived. You must have worked long enough to be eligible for SSDI benefits. The work duration required for eligibility depends on how old you are at the onset of the disability. For example, a younger worker who becomes disabled would have a shorter duration of work requirement than someone who becomes disabled later in life.
The disability definition you must meet to qualify for SSDI is the same one used to qualify adult applicants for SSI: A medically determinable physical or mental impairment that prevents the applicant from engaging in substantial gainful activity. The impairment or impairments must be expected to last for at least 12 months or be expected to result in the person’s death.
As long as you meet the eligibility requirements, you can collect SSDI benefits until you reach normal retirement age when Social Security retirement benefits become available. For anyone born in 1960 or later, age 67 is the normal retirement age. If you collect SSDI, the monthly benefit payments automatically convert at normal retirement age to retirement benefits. Most people do not see any change in the monthly payment amount after their SSDI converts.
Reasons For Suspension Of Disability Benefits
- Failing to meet the financial need requirements: If your income or resources exceed the limitations of the SSI program, your benefits may be suspended. For example, your total resources or assets may not exceed $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples. The value of the home you own and occupy as a principal residence does not count as a resource. However, its value counts as a resource if you move and no longer occupy it as a principal residence. The value of the home could make you exceed the resource limit.
- Not reporting changes in resources or income to Social Security: Benefits may be suspended for failing to promptly notify the Social Security Administration of changes in income, resources, or other benefits received.
- Improvements in medical condition: If you receive disability benefits through SSI, improvements in your medical condition could result in a suspension of benefits when you no longer meet the Social Security disability definition for eligibility.
- Imprisonment: You cannot continue to receive SSI benefits if you are in jail or prison for 30 or more consecutive days. Benefit payments are suspended until the period of confinement ends.
If you receive benefits through the SSDI program, some of the common reasons why Social Security might suspend your monthly payments include:
- Improved medical condition: If your medical condition improves to where you are no longer disabled according to Social Security guidelines, you may lose your benefits. The fact that you do not return to work does not prevent a suspension of your benefits if medical evidence shows you are no longer disabled.
- Earning more than the substantial gainful activity amount: If you work and earn more than $1,470 a month in 2023, you exceed the substantial gainful activity threshold, and your benefits may be suspended or terminated. There is an exception when you earn the money during a trial work period. A nine-month trial work period is an option for anyone wishing to try returning to work without jeopardizing their benefits. During the trial period, you may earn more than the substantial gainful activity amount without affecting your monthly SSDI benefits.
- Failing to report information to Social Security: Changes in your medical condition, returning to work, and other information that may affect your eligibility for benefits must be promptly reported to Social Security to avoid suspension of benefits.
- Fraud or overpayment of benefits: Fraud and deceit to qualify for SSDI can result in suspension and termination of benefits.
- Failing to cooperate with Social Security: If you fail to cooperate with the Social Security Administration, such as failing to provide documentation during a Continuing Disability Review, can result in suspension of benefits.
These are only some of the reasons that may lead to suspended Social Security disability benefits. If your SSI or SSDI benefits are suspended or terminated for any reason, a disability lawyer at Clauson Law should be consulted to determine how to reinstate the benefits.
How To Reinstate Suspended Social Security Disability Benefits
If your Social Security disability benefits were suspended because you worked and earned more than the substantial gainful activity threshold, you may be eligible for expedited reinstatement of benefits. It’s not uncommon for someone to attempt a return to work and discover they cannot do work-related activities.
An expedited reinstatement may be requested without having to submit a new application for disability benefits if you meet the following requirements:
- The suspension was because of the amount of your earnings from work.
- You can not work or engage in substantial gainful activity.
- The impairment or impairments that cause you to be disabled are related to or the same as what allowed you to initially qualify for disability benefits.
- The request for reinstatement is made within five years of the suspension or termination of benefits.
If you meet each of these eligibility guidelines to reinstate suspended SSD benefits, you may be eligible for provisional benefits while awaiting a determination on your request. Provisional benefits include monthly payments and coverage through Medicare or Medicaid and may be paid for as long as six months.
You also may request reinstatement of suspended Social Security disability benefits based on reasons other than work earnings. For example, the suspension is because you were confined to jail or prison for more than 30 consecutive days, you may request reinstatement by submitting official documentation of your release.
Get Help From An Experienced Disability Lawyer
Suspension of disability benefits is a stressful situation that needs to be handled immediately, but that can be difficult for anyone living with the challenge of a disabling medical condition. The disability law team at the Clauson Law Firm understands what’s at stake and what needs to be done to aggressively fight for reinstatement of your benefits.
Our goal at Clauson Law is to relieve you of a burden by taking on the challenge of reinstating the disability benefits you need and depend upon. Learn more about how a disability lawyer can make a difference by contacting us today for a free consultation.