Factors, including returning to work, medical improvement, reaching retirement age, and criminal convictions or institutionalization may result in the termination of people’s Social Security Disability benefits. As of December 2016, more than 10.1 million people across the U.S. received SSDI benefits. People who are unable to work due to serious health issues often rely on these funds to provide for their basic needs. Therefore, it is essential that benefit recipients understand the issues that could cause a termination of their benefits.
SSDI benefits do not necessarily go on indefinitely. Rather, the Social Security Administration continues to provide benefits only as long as people remain unable to work and their conditions do not improve.
Returning to Work
Since SSDI benefit awards are based on people’s inability to work, their benefits may terminate if they begin engaging in substantial gainful activity. For the year 2019, substantial gainful activity is generally considered work activity that earns people over $1,220 per month. If claimants have an interest in working or have already gone back to work, they may choose to participate in the SSA’s work incentives or Ticket to Work program. These options allow people to progress toward rejoining the workforce without fear of having their benefits stopped before they are ready.
SSDI recipients only receive benefits while they suffer from qualifying medical conditions and those conditions cause disability that prevents them from working. Social Security conducts periodic reviews to ensure benefit recipients’ health has not improved. If recent medical reports or a special examination show people’s conditions are no longer disabling, their payments may be stopped.
Reaching Retirement Age
Disability benefits terminate for recipients who reach retirement age, which is currently set at 66-years-old. The SSA provides disability benefits and retirement benefits; however, people cannot simultaneously receive funds through both programs. Therefore, when SSDI benefit recipients reach the specified age of retirement, the benefits they receive may be adjusted from SSDI to retirement benefits.
Incarceration or Institutionalization
Social Security does not permit the payment of benefits to people in jail, prison, or certain public institutions. The benefits of those convicted of criminal offenses and sentenced to more than 30 continuous days in jail or prison are suspended. Upon their release, people may request the SSA to reinstate their benefits and may begin receiving them again starting with the month following their release.