You can continue to receive disability benefits as long as you meet the requirements for your condition. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will regularly check in on your medical qualifications and look for signs your medical condition has improved and you no longer suffer from a disabling impairment. While it will keep tabs on your income, if you return to work, the SSA does offer programs that allow you to return to work while continuing to get benefits — assuming you report all income to the SSA.
The Social Security Administration Will Periodically Review Your Qualifications
After you receive approval for disability benefits, the SSA will schedule regular check-ins to ensure you remain eligible. It needs to see that your condition has not improved, and that you still suffer from a qualifying impairment. As long as it knows that, you will continue to receive your regular benefits.
It is important to note that the burden of proof is on the SSA during these reviews. They must prove your condition improved. You do not need to show you suffer from an impairment again. In general, because you need to suffer from a long-term or permanent impairment to qualify in the first place, most people retain their benefits following these reviews.
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Understanding When to Expect the SSA to Review Your Condition
When the SSA approves you for benefits, it puts you into a category based on your medical condition and impairment. Each category receives a regular review, but those with less serious impairments or those most likely to improve will receive a review sooner and more often than those with conditions that are unlikely to improve.
The categories include:
- Medical Improvement Expected (MIE)
- Medical Improvement Possible (MIP)
- Medical Improvement Not Expected (MINE)
Which category the disability examiner puts you in depends on the information on your claim and the medical evidence the examiner uncovers to prove your impairment. In general, if the disability examiner finds:
- Your condition is “expected” to improve, the SSA will review your case every six months to 18 months.
- Improvement in your condition is “possible,” the SSA will reevaluate your case about every three years.
- Your condition is “not expected” to improve, the SSA will review your medical qualifications every seven years.
Returning to Work Can Jeopardize Your Disability Benefits
The SSA offers disability benefits to help make ends meet if you cannot work because of your health. If you can work, you may no longer meet the strict qualifications for these benefits. The Social Security Administration will review your work activity when it considers your medical eligibility, but it may also reevaluate your case any time you return to work without notifying your local field office.
The SSA offers several programs that allow you to try to return to work while still drawing your benefits. However, if you return to work without participating in one of these programs, you risk the agency learning about your return to work from the Internal Revenue Service. This could cause the Social Security Administration to cut off your disability benefits.
Reaching Your Full Retirement Age and the End of Disability
The goal of Social Security disability benefits is to bridge the gap between the time you can no longer work and when you reach retirement age and can draw Social Security retirement. Because of this, your disability benefits automatically stop and convert to retirement benefits when you reach your full retirement age.
At that time, your benefits convert automatically to Social Security retirement benefits. You should not have any interruption in your benefits, and many people do not even realize this has occurred. However, technically you cannot receive disability benefits beyond your full retirement age.
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Contact a Pittsburgh Disability Attorney If You Have Questions About Your Case
The Social Security Disability team from Pittsburgh law firm Berger and Green can help you apply for benefits, or if you have already applied and been denied, we can help you appeal.
Call us today at 412-661-1400 for your complimentary consultation and free case review. Let us see how we can help you.