What if my Disability Improves After I am Awarded SSD Benefits?
Disability benefits are a crucial lifeline for individuals who are unable to work due to a disability or medical condition. These benefits provide financial support and stability to those in need. However, life circumstances can change, and sometimes disability situations improve. When this happens, recipients of disability benefits may wonder about the consequences of their improved condition on their benefits. In this blog post, we will discuss what happens if your disability improves while on disability benefits.
- Medical Reviews
The most common scenario when your disability improves is through medical treatment, therapy or surgery. In such cases, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may conduct periodic medical reviews to assess your condition. If during these reviews it is determined that your condition has improved significantly and you are now capable of substantial gainful activity (SGA), your benefits may be reevaluated.
- Continuation of Benefits
The SSA understands that disability situations can change, and they have provisions in place to support individuals whose conditions improve but may still require financial assistance. For example, the SSA offers a trial work period during which you can attempt to return to work without immediately losing your benefits. This allows you to test your ability to work without the fear of losing your disability benefits.
- Extended Period of Eligibility
If your disability benefits are based on your work history and you start earning above the SGA limit after your condition has improved, you may still be eligible for benefits during what is called the Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE). During this period, which generally lasts 36 months, you will receive benefits for any month where your earnings are below the SGA threshold. If your earnings consistently exceed SGA, your benefits will stop.
- Appeal Options
In some cases, the SSA may terminate your benefits if they believe your condition has improved enough to allow you to return to work. If you disagree with their decision, you have the right to appeal. You can provide medical evidence and documentation to support your claim that your condition has not significantly improved or that it still prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
For individuals receiving SSI benefits, the rules regarding improvement in disability are slightly different. SSI benefits are means-based, which means your financial resources and income play a significant role in eligibility. If your disability improves and your income and resources exceed the SSI limits, your benefits may be reduced or terminated. However, the process can be complex, so it is important to report any changes in your financial situation to the SSA right away.
- Health Insurance Coverage
Many individuals on disability benefits also receive Medicaid or Medicare, which provides healthcare coverage. If your disability improves and your income exceeds the thresholds for these programs, you may lose your health insurance coverage.
- Reporting Changes
One of the fundamental requirements when receiving disability benefits is to promptly report any changes in your medical condition or income to the relevant government agency or insurance provider. This includes reporting any improvement in your disability status. Failure to do so could result in overpayments, legal consequences or even loss of benefits.
When your disability improves, it can lead to changes in your benefit status. It is important to be aware of the rules and regulations governing disability benefits. If your condition improves, stay in communication with the SSA and be prepared to provide documentation to support your case.