Reasons for disability benefits being terminated

What causes disability benefits to stop?

The number one reason for disability to be terminated is work activity. Social Security allows disability beneficiaries to work while receiving disability benefits, however there are rules in place that could cause work to become a terminating factor.

Once you are approved for disability benefits, you are allowed to work nine months and earn whatever you wish. There is a catch though: the nine months known as trial work months do not have to be consecutive and if you are performing SGA level work activity on the tenth month, your disability benefits will be suspended.

This month begins what Social Security calls an extended period of eligibility or EPE. The EPE is a 36-month period in which you are allowed to come back onto your disability benefits without question if you stopped work due to your disability. Once the 36 month period is complete, any month you perform SGA will terminate your disability benefits.

Not only does work have the potential to suspend or terminate your disability benefit, it can signal to Social Security that there has been medical improvement. Medical improvement is the second reason why disability benefits can be terminated.

When you are approved for disability, your claim is automatically set for a continuing medical review date or diary date. All disability applicants have their reviews from time to time. The review involves an update of your medical information and a determination as to whether or not you are still disabled according to Social Security rules and guidelines. If your doctor states that you have medically improved, or a consultative examination suggests medical improvement, your disability benefits may be ceased.

Even if you do not have a medical review coming up, work activity could trigger an early review.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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