Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits provide vital relief to individuals who are no longer able to work due to injuries or illnesses.
While SSD benefits are ongoing provided that you meet the disability criteria as outlined by the Social Security Administration, it is important to understand that these payments can be terminated under certain circumstances. Here are common reasons why you may lose eligibility for disability benefits:
Your condition has improved
SSA will terminate your SSD benefits is when there is a significant improvement in your health to the extent that you are no longer deemed disabled. SSA conducts a periodic review (typically every three to seven years) on each beneficiary. If the review indicates that the recipient’s disabling condition has improved to the point where they are no longer disabled, then benefits can be stopped. (That’s why it’s so important to have regular evaluations with your physician, even if your condition hasn’t changed.)
You have returned to work
Social Security Disability benefits are meant to provide you with a financial cushion when you are unable to work. If you’re able to return to work and make what Social Security considers “substantial gainful activity,” your benefits will eventually cease. (They do not cease automatically, however, and there is a significant period of time where you can perform substantial gainful activity and still receive benefits, to make it easier for people to try to return to work.)
You have reached retirement age
You cannot receive both the Social Security Disability and Social Security retirement benefits at the same time. Thus, once you reach the maximum retirement age (which can vary depending on your situation and year of birth), your SSD benefits will automatically be converted into retirement benefits. While that technically stops your disability payments, you should notice no interruption in payment.
In reality, benefit cessations are rare. The struggle that most people have is getting approved for benefits in the first place, not keeping them. If your SSD claim seems to be running into trouble, it may be time to get some experienced legal guidance.