Social Security Disability Resource Center

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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.

  • What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

  • What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

  • Which conditions will social security recognize as a disability?

  • Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Medical exams for disability claims

    Applying for Disability in various states

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits

    FAQ on Disability Claim Representation

    Disability hearings before Judges

    Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved

    FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions

    The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Applying for Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    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.

    Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
    How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
    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?
    How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
    How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
    Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
    Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria