disabled elderly woman

What Should I Do If the SSA Cuts Off My Disability Benefits?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is not supposed to terminate Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits arbitrarily or without giving you notice or an opportunity to challenge the adverse decision. You have very little time to take action and continue getting benefits.

If you find yourself asking, “What should I do if the SSA cuts off my disability benefits?” the answer is, do not delay. A Michigan SSDI attorney can advocate for you and fight to get your benefits restored.

The Notification Letter from the SSA

The Social Security Administration (SSA) periodically reviews the files of people who receive SSDI or SSI benefits to verify that the individuals are still eligible. If the SSA determines at the periodic review that you no longer qualify for benefits, they will send you a notification letter about this decision. 

Appealing the Adverse Decision

How quickly you file an appeal will determine whether you continue getting disability benefits during the appeal. If your appeal gets filed within 10 days of when you got the letter from the SSA, they will keep paying your benefits for the many months that your appeal makes its way through the system. After the tenth day, you can still file an appeal within 60 days of when you received the letter, but they will suspend your benefits until your appeal is over.

Reasons the SSA Cuts Off Disability Benefits

Typically, the SSA terminates disability benefits when they decide that the individual has experienced medical improvement that affects the person’s ability to work and the individual is capable of earning at least $1,310 a month if non-blind or $2,190 a month if statutorily blind. These numbers are the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) benchmark for 2021 and can change yearly.

Specific events that can trigger a termination of disability benefits include:

  • Medical improvement. Most people have a Continuing Disability Review (CDR) approximately every three years. There are some exceptions, such as being over 50 years old or having a condition that is unlikely to improve, in which case the CDR might only occur once every seven years.
  • Earning more than the SGA limit. Even if you don’t get paid, the SSA could consider work that you do as substantial – for example, performing significant volunteer work or helping family members, like babysitting your grandchildren. Please note that a “return to work” plan, like a Ticket to Work or Plan to Self Support (PASS), does not disqualify a person from benefits.
  • Incarceration stops disability benefits temporarily or permanently. Since the government provides room and board for people in prison, the government will not send disability benefits, which are supposed to help pay for a person’s basic living expenses.
  • Fraud. SSA can terminate a person’s disability benefits and pursue criminal charges if they become convinced that an individual did not tell the truth about things like their income, Social Security number, or medical condition. 
  • Retirement. Technically, reaching full retirement age means that disability benefits stop, but the individual will still get a monthly check from the government. The disability benefits automatically convert from disability benefits to Social Security retirement benefits. Usually, the amount of the monthly check does not change.
  • Increased assets, income, family income, or resources. These issues primarily affect people who receive SSI benefits. The SSA will consider some of the assets and income of your spouse and specific relatives when evaluating your initial and continuing eligibility for benefits. Also, if you qualify for some other type of assistance, like a pension, that resource could make you ineligible for disability benefits.

If the SSA notifies you that they will terminate your SSDI or SSI benefits, you should talk to a Michigan SSDI attorney right away to protect your right to this assistance. Get in touch with our office today.