Wednesday, May 12, 2010

If I Stopped Working, How Do I Get My Disability Benefits Reinstated?

Work activity can cause an individual’s disability benefit to be suspended or even terminated. And the reinstatement of disability benefits for an individual who has had disability benefits in the past that were stopped due to work activity...may or may not be possible.

The trial work period

All disability beneficiaries are entitled to a nine month trial work period. Trial work period months do not have to be consecutive; they can occur at any time during a five year rolling period. This simply means that trial work months begin with the first month a person earns over the monthly trial work month amount (this amount generally is under the SGA amount and it changes each year) and ends when they have completed the ninth month in which they perform work that is over the SGA amount during the five-year period.

Trial work months have no monetary limit, but are counted simply if they are above the trial work month amount that is in effect for the year in which they occur.

Working beyond the trial work period

If an individual is working on the tenth month at SGA (substantial gainful activity) level, their disability benefit will be suspended and they will begin an extended period of eligibility for disability (EPE).

The EPE is a thirty-six month period of extended disability eligibility in which an individual’s disability benefits can be reinstated if they are unable to work due to their disabling condition (s). For some individuals, their disability benefits may be suspended and reinstated multiple times during this thirty-six month period depending upon their work activity.

A word of caution: any month that an individual performs SGA during this period is a month for which they are not eligible to receive a monetary benefit. It is important to notify Social Security of all work activity to prevent overpayments. Overpayments occur when an individual receives money for months that their work made them ineligible for benefits. If an individual incurs an overpayment, the money will have to be repaid to Social Security.

Once the EPE has been completed, an individual’s disability benefit check will be terminated the first month that they perform SGA-level work activity.

Once an individual’s disability has been terminated, it cannot be automatically reinstated.

However, there is one other potential option. If an individual’s benefit has not been terminated for five years or longer due to work activity, they may be able to request an expedited reinstatement of benefits.

A request for an expedited reinstatement of disability benefits will allow an individual to receive six months of provisional disability payments while their disability case is sent for a determination of disability. If the individual’s disability case is approved for disability, they are eligible to receive disability benefits again.

If an individual’s disability was terminated due to a finding of medical improvement, or their termination as a result of work activity was more than five years in the past, they will have to file a new disability claim with Social Security to receive disability benefits.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

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