Under the Social Security Administration’s strict standards, conditions that qualify for Social Security Disability benefits are often long-term or permanent. Many beneficiaries in Illinois may think this makes the loss of benefits unlikely. However, as any disability lawyers in Chicago can attest, various factors can result in the loss of SSD benefits.

Medical improvements

Changes in the disabling condition can lead to benefit loss. The SSA conducts continuing disability reviews every three or seven years to determine whether a condition still qualifies as disabling. If medical evidence or self-reporting suggests improvements in the condition, the SSA reevaluates the beneficiary’s ability to work. Benefits stop if the SSA determines the individual can work gainfully.

Medical improvements and other developments can trigger unscheduled continuing disability reviews. If a beneficiary stops pursuing recommended treatment, the SSA may review the case and stop benefits. If medical advances produce a new treatment protocol for the condition, the individual is also at risk for benefit loss.

Beneficiaries who appeal the disability review decision within 15 days may continue receiving benefits while the SSA reconsiders the decision. Applicants who receive a second denial and appeal within 10 days may receive benefits while waiting for the hearing. However, the SSA does not let beneficiaries continue collecting benefits during higher appeals.

Non-medical developments

Even if a person’s medical condition has not changed significantly, the person may still lose benefits. The following circumstances can result in the loss of benefits or overall eligibility:

  • Reaching retirement age. Beneficiaries start receiving Social Security Disability retirement benefits at this point.
  • Incarceration. If a beneficiary is convicted of a crime and confined to a penal institution, benefits stop for the duration of the incarceration. In certain circumstances, a felony conviction can affect permanent eligibility for benefits.
  • Resuming substantial work. A beneficiary loses eligibility if he or she engages in substantial gainful activity. The SSA often uses income as a measure of SGA. For individuals who aren’t blind, monthly earnings over $1,070 constitute SGA. However, the SSA can also consider the nature of the work. A job generating income below the SGA threshold could still be considered SGA.

People who return to work while receiving benefits may keep their benefits for a set period, known as a trial work period. After the 9-month trial period ends, individuals who are engaging in SGA lose their benefits. However, they qualify for special programs, including a three-year extended eligibility period and a five-year period of expedited benefit reinstatement. These measures can help people receive benefits quickly if they need them again in the future.