How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

If I am on Social Security Disability, can I lose my disability benefits at some point?

There are a couple of things that could cause your disability benefits to be suspended or even terminated. The two most common causes of Social Security Disability termination are work activity and medical improvement. What do we mean by this? If you work and earn more than the allowable limit for earned income while receiving disability, or if your case is reviewed and the medical records show that your condition has improved, you can lose your disability benefits.

How does Social Security monitor your earnings or medical condition? Naturally, Social Security must have a process to determine if you have had any medical improvement and if you remain unable to perform substantial gainful activity.

Disability reviews

Social Security uses periodic continuing disability reviews (CDR) to evaluate both medical improvement and work activity. In terms of work and earnings, both SSD and SSI are based upon the premise that your residual functional capacity (what you are able to do with the limitations of your disabling condition) will be so diminished that you will not be able to earn what SSA considers to be a substantial income. So if your income goes above the SGA limit, your disability benefits can be ceased.

Likewise, if a review shows that your condition has improved, regardless of whether you are working or not, you can have your disability benefits stopped. Termination due to medical improvement is somewhat self-explanatory. Social Security gathers the medical records from the medical sources you provide for your continuing disability review; if your medical records indicate that your disabling condition has improved to the point that you are no longer disabled under Social Security rules and guidelines, your disability benefits might be terminated due to medical improvement.

Losing your disability due to working and earning more than the allowed limit is much more tricky.

Work activity and being taken off benefits

After you win your disability, if you wish to get back to work, Social Security provides avenues that allow you to attempt work activity without losing your disability eligibility. For instance, you have nine trial work months in which Social Security allows you to earn any amount of money without it affecting your disability benefit eligibility.

The trick to the nine month trial work period is that the months do not have to be consecutive and can occur any time in a five year period. If you are performing substantial work activity in the tenth month, your disability benefits will be suspended and you begin an extended period of eligibility, or EPE.

The EPE begins with your tenth month of SGA-level job earnings (see the definition link in the second paragraph above). During the thirty-six month period, you can start your disability benefits any time that you stop working or are no longer performing work activity at the SGA earnings level without any question.

However, if you work and have earnings up to the SGA income limit after the thirty-six month of the EPE, your disability benefits will be terminated. If you are able to perform substantial gainful work activity in spite of your disabling condition, why should you be receiving disability benefits?

While there is a chance that your disability benefits may be terminated during your continuing disability review, it is unlikely. The vast majority of disability beneficiaries receive Social Security Disability benefits until they convert to full retirement benefit, go back to work, or their death.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

If I am Awarded Social Security Disability Will My Benefits be Cutoff Later?
Approved for Disability but Medicare being terminated?
Can I lose my disability benefits?
Will Work Cause You To Lose Your Disability Benefits?
Will I lose my disability benefits when my case is being reviewed?
Can my Social Security Disability or SSI benefits be stopped or cutoff?
What to do if your Disability Benefits are stopped
Getting disability benefits restarted after having them stopped due to income
How Long Can You Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?
Not enough accumulated quarters for disability, what do I do?
Social Security Disability - earned income versus unearned income
Applying for Disability in Michigan
Getting a Disability Lawyer in Michigan
Will I qualify for disability Benefits in Michigan

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.