How Changes to My Condition Impact My Disability Benefits

Calculator with some paper bills

Generally, the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not change the amount of a person’s disability benefits if his or her condition becomes worse. Nevertheless, a worsening disabling condition can affect how the SSA handles a person’s application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. One can lose SSDI benefits if his or her condition improves.

What Determines SSDI Benefits?

The amount of SSDI benefits paid out is not based on the level of a person’s disability. It depends on a person’s earnings history. Upon approval of an SSDI claim, the disability benefit that one will receive will be the same as the full retirement benefit that person would have received if he or she had reached full retirement age when he or she became disabled.

The SSA determines a person to be fully disabled when approving his or her claim. In other words, the SSA decided that a person’s condition was severe enough to prevent him or her from engaging in most work and expected it to last for 12 or more months. Therefore, if the condition worsens months after a person started receiving the benefits, he or she would have already been considered fully disabled and would continue receiving the benefits he or she qualified for as usual.

The SSA periodically reviews the medical status of recipients to verify whether they still qualify for disability. The benefits will be stopped if the review finds a recipient’s health to have improved to the extent that he or she can work regularly.

Impact on Application

Certain disorders or illnesses may qualify an applicant for expedited processing of his or her claim for benefits. The severity of one’s condition can impact an applicant’s chances of obtaining a quick decision on his or her claim. Getting approved for SSDI benefits can be challenging if a person is not accustomed to the approval or appeals process. An attorney for disability claims guides claimants through all the disability claims processes.

SSI Benefits

SSI benefits are also not based on the extent of a person’s disability. They increase or decrease based on a person’s household financial circumstances and current income. Because SSI payments depend on a beneficiary’s financial need, periodic reviews of a person’s living arrangements, assets and income may be done. A person’s benefits can change if his or her living situation or income changes. The periodic reviews may end the SSI benefits.

Unlike SSDI benefits, SSI payments are not affected by a person’s lifetime work record.

Social Security Disability

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