Can My Disability Benefits Be Taken Away?
Recipients of SSDI and SSI can have their disability benefits taken away for many reasons. The most common reasons relate to an increase in income or payment-in-kind. Individuals can also have their benefits terminated if they are suspected of fraud or convicted of a serious crime.
For the most part, individuals do not have benefits taken away as a result of an improved condition. Periodic reviews are often ordered by the court on an average of three years, but the Social Security Administration (SSA) generally considers the prognosis of a disability benefits applicant at the time of their application. They will adjust the review period in light of the recipient’s medical outlook.
Learn more about when, how and why the SSA might take away your benefits by reading on.
Court-Order Continuing Disability Reviews
During your application process for disability benefits, your assigned Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will assess the likelihood that your condition will significantly improve and set a date for a Continuing Disability Review (CDR) in response. Typically, CDRs happen every three years.
During a CDR, all of your medical and case information will be sent to your regional Disability Determination Service (DDS) office. The DDS will consider this information and make recommendations to the SSA. Most often, their recommendation will be for another review in three or so years. They may also request an examination by a doctor affiliated with the SSA.
CDR durations can be shorter than three years if an ALJ anticipates that an applicant’s condition will improve significantly in a short period. The ALJ may also extend the CDR interval up to seven years for medical conditions unlikely to improve or for people over 50.
Making Too Much Income
Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) amounts can invalidate your ability to earn disability benefits. SGA limits for 2017 are $1,170 a month for non-blind people and $1,950 for people with blindness. You can also have benefits terminated if your assets exceed $2,000 — not including your personal residence and other exceptions.
The SSA can interpret non-income-earning activities as “substantial work activity” when they consider the approximate fair market value of the labor. So, volunteer work and work done as a favor can sometimes cause a recipient to fall above the SGA limit.
Income from a return to work programs are exempt from these limits, including Ticket to Work and Plan to Self Support (PASS) work plans.
Retirement or Turning 18
Children about to turn 18 will have their eligibility reviewed prior to their 18th birthday. This review can be delayed until the child is 19 if they are enrolled as a full-time student. Benefits will likely continue for children who are disabled, but children receiving disability benefits related to their parents’ condition may no longer be eligible.
Those who reach retirement age will have their disability income converted to retirement income automatically.
Arrest and Imprisonment
Anyone arrested for a crime and facing charges will have their SSI benefits stopped after one month of incarceration. Benefits will resume upon proof of release. If the recipient is released, later convicted of their crime, and sentenced to further imprisonment, their benefits will once again terminate after a month of incarceration and resume upon release.
Disability benefits not part of SSI, such as retirement, SSDI, or survivor benefits, will cease upon conviction for a crime. So, an individual can be incarcerated and charged with a crime, but their benefits will not stop until they have been formally convicted.
Note that certain felony crimes, including defrauding the SSA, will automatically cause your benefits to terminate for life. The SSA rigorously investigates and presses charges for all attempts to defraud them.
Protect Your Disability Benefits by Working With a California Disability Lawyer
You can reduce your risk of having benefits taken away by working with an experienced California disability lawyer to prepare for your CDR or take into account major life changes that could affect your eligibility.
Book your free case evaluation today by calling the phone number above or by completing our simple online contact form.