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If Social Security tries to cut off my disability Social Security benefits, what can I do?

By   /  March 3, 2016  /  60 Comments

Learn about appealing your disability Social Security claim closure, about your special reconsideration rights, and about how a lawyer can help.

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Watch the Video: "If Social Security tries to cut off my disability Social Security benefits, what can I do?"

Continuing Disability Reviews

When your claim is approved for disability Social Security, the approval decision may include a determination of when Social Security believes your health is likely to improve to the point that you will no longer be disabled. If that is the case, your approval letter will tell you that your claim will undergo a medical review at a certain point in time, typically in one year, three years, or seven years from the date your claim was approved. Whether you will be subject to a scheduled review and when that review will occur depends on your disabling condition, its severity, and your prognosis for recovery.

If Social Security reviews your claim because of a scheduled review date or for any other reason, you will be asked to provide updated information about your health, medical treatment, daily activities, and any work you have done. This information will be sent to the Disability Determination Services for review, to see if you are still medically disabled.

How to Appeal If Your Disability Social Security Payments Are Cut Off

If Social Security determines that you are no longer disabled and terminates your benefits, you then have the right to appeal. You can get the appeal forms by calling Social Security’s national toll-free number (800) 772-1213 or by visiting your local Social Security office. The appeal must be received by the Social Security Administration within sixty-five days of the date on the notice of termination. If Social Security does not receive your appeal within the sixty-five days, it is likely that you will lose your right to appeal. If you appeal within ten days and request payment termination, you can request that your benefits continue while the appeal is decided.

For your appeal, you will need to explain specifically why Social Security’s decision to terminate your benefits is incorrect. At this point, it is often important to have a lawyer who is experienced in Social Security Disability. He or she can review your claim file, analyze Social Security’s reasons for the closure, and help you formulate an argument for continuation of your benefits.

Special Appeal Rules for Disability Terminations

Unlike appealing a new claim denial, when your benefits are to be terminated due to a determination that you are not medically disabled, you can skip the reconsideration appeal and request a disability hearing before an administrative law judge.

For your appeal, you will need to explain specifically why Social Security’s decision to terminate your benefits is incorrect. At this point, it is often important to have a lawyer who is experienced in Social Security Disability. He or she can review your claim file, analyze Social Security’s reasons for the closure, and help you formulate an argument for continuation of your benefits.

Additional Appeals

If your reconsideration is denied, you can appeal a second time with a request for a hearing before a Social Security administrative law judge. If you opted for a hearing instead of a reconsideration, than you can request a review by the Social Security Appeals Council. If the Appeals Council denies your claim, you can file suit in Federal court. For additional information about Social Security Disability appeals, please see our article “I Was Denied Social Security Disability. What Can I Do?” which is applicable to appealing the termination of your disability Social Security benefits.

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60 Comments

  1. Chastity says:

    How long after termination letter from ssi, will you benefits stop?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Chastity,

      I would not expect you to receive a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit after the termination letter. (Note that usually the letter gives a termination date.)

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  2. Jason Heddleson says:

    Hi I’ve been getting disability benefits for 4 years and now my daughter as well for 2. This is the money we count on for rent and bills. This month it didn’t come and said suspended . I guess when I moved my new address never updated and I called in a panic waited on hold for 1.5 hours and was told I needed to go to the office and update my information and do a review. I never got any letter about this why would they just suspend money we dearly need. Im bipolar with extreme anxiety and agoraphobia that keeps me in the house I don’t even leave my room most days it’s awful not to mention other physical issues which make even wearing g clothes painful . Well I’m going to go to the office today and see why they did that. I did attempt to hand work these past two months to try and make a better life for my daughter and lasted 3 days at one job and now am at a second job trying to park cars for 5.25 an hour and a little tips but have not made very much and my moods and anxiety attacks are causing them to want to replace me already . Now we have no money would they just suspend our benefits cause they couldn’t get a hold of me? I didn’t know they were even trying. I updated my address with the US direct express people that handle y benefits but didn’t know I needed to with the other government . Plus they have my email address and sent me nothing. If it’s a review I have no doctor stuff anymore I left my old state in Ohio where my psychiatrist was cause wanted to try and be happy somewhere sunny thought might help me. All medication did was hurt my liver to where my skin is covered in painful red bumps that get worse when I sweat so many pills just made me a zombie and gain weight . Here I just stay in my house and live with my 73 year old dad and my daughter he helps with me an her and can tell them how awful my life is . I hope they schedule me with thworbown doctor I just stopped seeing ones cause OT wasn’t helping and only thing that helped was xaneex and that was addictive and so I refuse to take that . The lithium, seroquel, effexor, etc all just made me worse . On top of that an mri found out I have small vessels in my head that cause these awful pressure headaches I get . If I could work I would I’ve tried and am trying I’m 32 years old almost . Just don’t know why they suspended my benefits and don’t have any help or anyone to talk to. The guy on the phone had no info and just told to go into the office . :(

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jason,

      Suspension of benefits without notice usually occurs because of mail or benefits being returned. You do need to stay under a physician’s care at least for therapy, if not for medication, because if your claim is called up for a medical review and you don’t have proof of ongoing disability, you may not be sent for an independent exam. If you and your daughter are getting Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and not Social Security, your living arrangements determine in part your benefit amount, so reporting a new address without having an in-office or phone interview to update living arrangements could also cause suspension.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  3. Angela castaneda says:

    I have been having issues with my 14 year old sons Ssi since we have moved. Due to the fact that we had to move out of our apartment quickly and didn’t know where we were going to end up I reported the move within 30 days after we moved at the end of November of last year to the office we were assigned to. His check never got deposited into his account for December because we moved. The checks are deposited direct deposit to his account. Since we moved out of the area we were assigned to the new office. However since I reported the move, brought in my new lease he was getting his direct deposit. I got a letter on June 15 at my new address that his benefits were going to be suspended for July because the check from December was sent back to the office. I went down to the office to take care of this. I brought my new lease again, and reported new earnings for a job I just started and updated that I was not working at my old job. The new office did not have my new address in the system and they did not have my lease information. Not only that, they said that I was due for a review or they would have to cut my benefits for July!! I never got the paper stating I needed a review. I did the review right then and there but I still needed to bring in updated pay stubs for my husband and I. Due to the fact it was Friday the 17 I put them in the envelope my caseworker gave me with her name on it and my sons social security number on all the pays tubs on the inside. I waited 2 weeks. July 3 came and went and my son never got his benefits. I called and they suspended his benefits. I went into the office and the woman at the intake window said my case worker never got the envelope!! I had the info with me in case that happened. I submitted it again and waited. I called later in the week and nothing had changed on my case, I called my case worker and left a message, no call back. I went in again the day after I called and the same woman at the intake window took my paper work and I asked her if I could meet with my case worker and she said that was not needed. Today is Monday and I called again and my case worker is on vacation the whole week and my sons status has not changed. I have now called the manager of that office and left a message for him to call me back and no one has called!! I am going to go to the office and request to speak with the manager but what else can I do! It is frustrating when no one calls back

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Christopher,

      I answered your first post a couple days ago. You posted under a different article. Here is the answer I gave.

      Your claim may be taking a long time because Social Security has been waiting a little while to see whether you would recover or be expected to recover in less than twelve months. (To get benefits you have to be expected to be disabled twelve months.) The examinations should confirm your physical and mental limitations.

      If you are denied, I would recommend hiring an attorney. When you hire a Social Security attorney, you do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. If you are approved the attorney can charge 25% of your back pay up to a maximum of $6,000. The Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from your retroactive award before they send your back pay to you.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Angela castaneda says:

        Ok i am not Christopher though. Lol

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Angela,

          I don’t think I read or responded to your question previously. I was alerted to this when you posted indicating that I had responded addressing you as Christopher. I am not certain about the name mixup, but I don’t think that I answered your question posted on July 18 even though it was posted. You are doing everything that you can do. If you were able to talk with the manager, hopefully that has moved things along.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  4. Kim says:

    I have received a letter from SSI saying that I am not sick anymore and I can go to work. I can’t go to work do to seizure. I have to take medication every day to control my seizure, however by taking these medication did not free me from seizure either. I wrote a letter to SSI for an appeal and now they ask me to go see a doctor for evaluation. The Dr. gave me a lot of pills for me to take for a three months trial (10 pills per day). My question is: These new medication that this Dr. gave me has a lot of danger sign affects and I am afraid to take them.

    What should I do? Will I lose my qualification for benefit if I don’t take these medication? I don’t want to lose my SSI benefit, but I don’t want to take these pills either. I just want to take my old pills the one I have always been taking. Do you think an attorney can help me with this? Or is this the only way for me to qualify for this benefit is to go through with this evaluation? Thank you for your answer. Kim

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Kim,

      The consulting physician you saw is not supposed to provide any treatment. He or she is supposed to evaluate only. I suggest that you report to the disability examiner and your local Social Security office in writing that the doctor gave you medications and told you to take them. In the statement, include that you will not take them without consulting first with your attending physician because of the list of serious possible side effects. Then you might talk to your doctor about the medication in case your own doctor thinks that the risk is small and that you might get better control of the seizures with the medication. You could also consult with an attorney; and, if your appeal is denied, definitely get an attorney to assist with the appeal if your seizures are frequent enough to preclude work.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  5. Angela Stanley says:

    My son was receiving ssi from the age of 3 until 15, i filed for reconsideration and for payments to continue, well just received a letter saying i have to pay those payments back. Now my question is do i have to pay that back while waiting for a hearing, because i filed a second appeal for his payments to continue as well

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Angela,

      The overpayment was caused by the determination that your son is no longer disabled. You should not have to repay as long as you are contesting the fact of the overpaymen with the second appeal. I suggest contacting the office and requesting suspension of collection until you get a hearing decision.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  6. jamie says:

    I start receiving SSI when I was 11 years old that was back in 91 . I got ticket to work in 2001 so started working. They than said need get sad because I was working now. I have working along . If feels filling out paper work every three months. This get letter stating that my health gotting better that no longer disabled. That losing it August. Also my health insurance . I don’t even work that much . Only 14 hours a week. How do this too me. If I appeal . I go to office which drive dued to my axienty . This wrong . So what do from hear?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jamie,

      You do need to appeal the closure of your claim. If you appeal within ten days, you can request continuation of your benefits while the appeal is being processed. I suggest that you get someone to help you present the reasons why you cannot work more than you are now.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  7. Jack says:

    I Am a 100% Disabled Combat Veteran with full pension compensation from the V.A. . I also received my Social Security Disability benefits until I was asked to have a review of my disability. The letter scheduled a appointment for me on a Saturday . I notified case handler I could not get a ride on a Saturday due to the distance from my home to appointment and my having very few people to rely upon. Asked if it could be changed to a weekday and the request was denied. I ended up with no ride as I told the case handler and was informed that I would be rescheduled. 3 months later I received a letter stating my disability was terminated and The reason was I missed a rescheduling of my appointment ( I received no notification ) and that a determination had been made after talking to my VA Dr and review of V.A. records .

    Now the problem with this is my V.A. Dr doesn’t exist having not seen anyone at V.A. in over 3 years due to former Dr leaving the V.A. for private practice. And if a review of my V.A. records were performed the case handler would have been greeted by a Award Letter stating….. ” Veteran has been granted a 100 % Disability rating due to A Service Connected total and complete disability of a permanent nature . Due to the permanent nature of veterans disability no future exams or reviews required or requested ”

    So stating it’s because I missed a appointment rescheduling as well as claiming to have spoken to my Dr as well as reviewing records was a complete lie by case handler . Unfair , insulting , engaging and hopefully illegal action by social security employee. What can I do . Social Security repeatedly claims to have never received my appeal or request for a hearing and has told me to reapply. I’ve spoken to my congressional representative ‘s constituents services person when basically said she will contact my local SSADMIN office which is just ridiculous. I have 4 dependant children and barely got by with both V.A. and Social Security. Now I’m in the red monthly and owe over $8000 in overdue bills when previously I was able to keep and actually eat healthy. Now we half starve and the Power has been shut off multiple times due to overdue payments, have no heat not being able to afford propane or firewood. Please tell me what my best Avenue is here before another Disabled Veteran is lost or detained thanks to a uncaring and lying federal government agency

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jack,

      You should have been granted a rescheduling to a weekday, but that cannot be undone. If you are still in your appeals period (sixty-five days of the date on the termination letter–sixty from the date plus five days for mailing), file an appeal and get a ride to do it in person. Ask for a copy of the appeal request date stamped as received. If you are out of your appeals period, do file a new claim and start it this month because you can potentially get twelve months retroactive benefits for months before the application.

      The second issue is that is sounds as if you have not been under medical care. If that is the case, you need to see a doctor even if it is to confirm that there is no change in your conditions. An award letter from the VA confirming 100% disability for the VA does not mean you will necessarily be approved for Social Security because the laws are different, so you do need to stay under a doctor’s care.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  8. Sassy says:

    I’ve been receiving SSDI for since 1998. Today I received a letter stating that I was overpaid 8,0019.00 2001 to 2015 and that my benefits stop via SSDI. I needed to pay the full amount back. But will receive SSI of $75.50 per month. They already knew I was working on and off due to my disability. I can not afford to pay this back. I depend on my benefits for bills and rent. If I can’t pay for my living expenses, then I will be out on the streets. what to do? Please help.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Sassy,

      Please tell me the reason you were given for being overpaid $8,019. Was it because you were in your extended period of eligibility and eligible for benefits only in the months you earned less than the substantial gainful activity level, which in 2015 was $1,090? (If you are not considered disabled any longer for SSDI, I am at a loss as to how you could be considered disabled for SSI.)

      If you agree with the reasons for the overpayment, that is, agree that you are overpaid, then you can request waiver of repayment; however, you must prove that you were not at fault in causing the overpayment (including not accepting payments you knew were incorrect) and can’t afford to repay. If you do have to repay, you can ask for a repayment plan.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Tabitha Anthony says:

        They’re telling me that I was being over paid due to the work trial period. They believed I made more than 1,090. But that’s not true. So now I did a reconsideration, but they haven’t released my benefits. So as of now I have phone appointment next week.

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Tabitha,

          I suggest that you contact Social Security to find out why your benefits have been suspended. Is it because they are collecting the overpayment or because they think you are not eligible for benefits because of your earnings. While your reconsideration appeal is pending, the overpayment should not be collected. If the benefits are suspended because of the amount of money you were determined to be making and you appealed within ten days, you may be eligible for payment continuation during the appeal to have benefits started again.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  9. McKinley Harris says:

    Benifits are in suspended need Benifits to pay bills for this month of January worked for period seasonal signed 10 day extension but benifits did not show up on 12/31/15

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear McKinley,

      If you have a question, please post again. If you do, please indicate whether the suspended benefits are Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and if Social Security, the reason for the suspension.

      Thank you,
      Kay

      • Brianna says:

        I’m grown will Ssi cut you off for not going to therapy I had seizures in dieting and depression disorders

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Brianna,

          When you claim is called up for medical review, it is important to show that you have been under regular care for your disabling conditions. If your physician has recommended therapy and you don’t attend, it could be taken as a sign that your condition is no longer severe or you might simply not have enough documentation to show what your condition is.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  10. Anonymous says:

    I’m a 100% TDIU army veteran who has recieved SSDI since 07. This dec I was told my review found me able to go back to work even though both my Veterans Admin doc have wrote letters saying my conditions render me unemployable. I showed this to my local SS office and the guy at window 18 wrote

    “Applicant is 100% employable from veterans admin”

    Not only that but it’s been 3 months since my last physical and mental Evaluation and they are trying to send me back for another round even with my proof of VA award and doctors notes!

    I’m getting shafted here what can I do?!?!?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Anonymous,

      Apparently, you have an appeal pending. You need to get the representative’s incorrect recording of the letters from the V.A. corrected if you have not already and submit copies of the letters. Also, be sure to attend the consultative examinations even though you think they are not necessary.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Anonymous says:

        I have done all that and was told today that the medical statements “won’t hold much weight” that DDS goes by chart notes from the past 6 months. Then why ask for statements from my mental and primary care doctor?

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Anonymous,

          All information in your claim file should be considered. Physicians’ statements can be helpful if the statements explain the doctors’ opinion including listing the test or clinical findings that support the limitations the doctor thinks you have.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

          • Anonymous says:

            That’s the thing. DDS only takes medical info from the past year. The veterans admin did all my test and exhausted them years back which is why I was awarded 100% TDIU because my conditions render me unemployable! Both my psych doc and primary care doc filled out papers saying I’m unemployable due to mental and physical conditions that my PTSD and physical problems make me unable to perform even sedentary work! DDS says those will not hold bearing just chart notes! There isn’t chart notes cause I only go to PTSD groups or see primary care once or twice a year! DDS says there isn’t enough evidence I’m disabled! I’m getting scammed here and bullied by DDS and SSA and don’t know what else to do!!!

          • Kay Derochie says:

            Dear Anonymous,

            If you are denied by DDS review, you can appeal for a hearing. If you do, I suggest your hire an experienced Social Security attorney to assist you. When you hire a Social Security attorney, you do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount your attorney can charge and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from the retroactive award before sending your back pay to you.

            Sincerely,
            Kay

          • Anonymous says:

            You’re not understanding me, there will not be a retroactive award. I’ve appealed in the 10 days. I was already getting benefits from 07-15. How can DDS ignore all paperwork from the Veterans Admin and my treating doctors there? The guy that runs the local DDS office told me flat out those records do not hold bearing!

          • Kay Derochie says:

            Dear Anonymous,

            I can’t really answer your question. It is possible that the records are too old or are to limited or too general.

            Sincerely,
            Kay

          • Anonymous says:

            Please explain what you mean by too old?

            I haven’t worked since 07 all my records are from the military or from the veterans admin.

            I am aware SSA only takes things from the previous year but for people like me who are PERMANENTLY disabled and my docs just give me pain or mood stabilizing pills there really isn’t much to go on. So how can DDS ignore all those records and say I’m able to work?

            Also I see 100% TDIU vets in Idaho automatically are able to get benefits if they file and show that so how come it’s not that way in California?

          • Kay Derochie says:

            Dear Anonymous,

            Social Security law is the same in all states. To my understanding, no one automatically gets Social Security benefits. It is possible that the examiner is not ignoring the records, but simply finds them inadequate because you have had few appointments or the records aren’t well documented. If you are denied, you have the right to appeal. If you appeal, I suggest you hire an experienced Social Security attorney. When you hire a Social Security attorney, you do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount your attorney can charge and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from the retroactive award before sending your back pay to you.

            Sincerely,
            Kay

          • Anonymous says:

            So my documents from the veterans admin stating I’m 100% due to individual unemployability will hold weight correct? And my mental health and primary care doctors opinions will hold deference correct? I haven’t been able to sleep much since all this started and my brain is already easily confused from my disabilities my apologies if I’m coming off as rude

          • Kay Derochie says:

            Dear Anonymous,

            All evidence should be considered. If there is a discrepancy between evidence from different sources, the evidence that is given the most weight is the evidence that is best documented. Right now you are in a wait and see situation.

            Sincerely,
            Kay

          • Anonymous says:

            Ever heard of the BRAVE act? My lawyer says veterans with 100% TDIU or 100% T&P who apply for SS benefits will be granted it because another gov agency has already ruled them unemployable. She’s confident my case will be easily won because of that. What’s your thoughts?

          • Kay Derochie says:

            Dear Anonymous,

            I just did a little research and found that a veteran who has a 100% disability rating will automatically be medically eligible for Social Security Disability and will be eligible for benefits if he or she has enough work to be insured for Social Security Disability benefits at the time the disability began.

            Sincerely,
            Kay

          • Anonymous says:

            Thank you, is there anyway you can link me the specific code in SS law where this is or tell me what code I need to look up?

            Again as I said, I’ve been on Social Security for 9 years and the cut it last December despite both my VA doctors saying I’m unemployable and my rating still being 100% TDIU.

          • Kay Derochie says:

            Dear Anonymous,

            Here is a link to the topic on Social Security’s sight. It may reference the code. https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v74n3/v74n3p1.html.

            Sincerely,
            Kay

          • Anonymous says:

            Thank You for all your help. I didn’t know if that was official policy or something not yet passed. I appreciate your help sincerely

          • Kay Derochie says:

            You are welcome.

          • Anonymous says:

            Sorry to do this Kate but can you give me clarification on if that BRAVE act is law? That link says it’s not been enacted.

          • Kay Derochie says:

            Dear Anonymous,

            You are right. On closer look, I couldn’t find anything to indicate that the bill passed, which means that veterans will have to submit medical documentation of the inability to perform substantial gainful activity that has lasted or is expected to last at least twelve months and have their claims evaluated the same as others.

            Sincerely,
            Kay

          • Anonymous says:

            Kay

            Just found out that the BRAVE act wasn’t signed into law so it’s not official policy… Is there anything else that says 100% disabled vets are eligible for social security benefits?

          • Kay Derochie says:

            Dear Anonymous,

            Please see my response of earlier today to your other post.

            Sincerely,
            Kay

  11. Mike says:

    My question is I have been on Ssdi since 1992 with no issue, Now since 2006 I have beening get my reviews every 2 months, then I moved and since I moved now it’s been every month for a review, my question is if they shut me off do they help you find a job or do they you get in vocab, to get skills, or do they just throw you out like a pack of wolfs.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Mike,

      I have never heard of anyone having either a continuing disability (medical) review every two months for either Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or a financial review that often for SSI unless the person’s living arrangement or income keep changing. Social Security will not provide vocational services if your disability benefits are terminated. You can, however, while receiving benefits, request a Ticket to Work and then use the rehabilitation services that can be part of the Ticket to Work to prepare yourself for work, possibly through retraining. You can also then attempt work while getting benefits to find out whether you can do it.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  12. Anonymous says:

    Kay,

    He SAID he has already been receiving Social Security benefits for the last two years or so. That means there is NO back pay and the lawyers are requesting upfront costs in the thousands. He WANTS to know if he NEEDS a lawyer due to the financial aspect!

    Looks like the Social Security Administration knows that when a person is faced with a redetermination decision, lawyers are unlikely to represent because of the clients inability to pay upfront fees. This seems to be the case all across the board. For example, a person receiving disability benefits are NOT allowed to have more than $2000.00 in assets at anytime. Lawyers charge upwards of $3000.00 upfront to represent for redetermination cases, due to the VERY fact that there is NO back pay to rely on.

    This seems to put the Social Security Administration at an unfair advantage in a already beneficial situation for them to begin with. Looks like it’s best for them (SSA-SSI) to just approve benefits upfront and deny/close benefits during redetermination no matter what the condition of the person. Just saying!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Anonymous,

      Some attorneys will take closure cases because the appeal takes time to process and back benefits build up between the closure and when the claim is reopened.

      Just to set the record straight, Social Security Disability (SSDI) law does not set any limits on a disabled person’s assets. The asset limits you are quote are to be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is a public welfare program and not an earned benefit like Social Security.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  13. Jonathan says:

    Having received SSI for the last 10 years for a psychiatric disability, I started doing a small amount of work last year, for which I’ve received a 1099. Not by coincidence, or so I assume, I’ve also just received a form SSA-455-OCR-SM (Disability Update Report) from the SSA. The 1099 is for just over $6,000, and business expenses will reduce my taxable income substantially.

    The SSA-455-OCR-SM asks for Monthly Earnings. I’m assuming that in the case of self-employment, this means NET earnings. Do you know if this correct?

    Thank you very much!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jonahan,

      Work earnings from self-employment is net earnings although depreciation claimed is not allowed to reduce earnings. You need to report the date that you started work and submit a copy of your Schedule C (or other self-employment) form from your tax return. (Yes, you need to file even if you do not owe taxes other than self-employment taxes (FICA tax for the self-employed). You also need to take an estimate of gross and net earnings for 2015. (You should have reported your work in 2014 when you started and given an estimate then.) Your earnings per month with be your earnings for the year divided by the number of months your worked. For example if you started work in June, your monthly earnings for April would be total earnings divided by eight.

      If you are receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI, not SSI) and have not recovered medically, you can take advantage of Social Security’s work incentives including a nine-month Trial Work Period and an Extended Period of Eligibility. If so, you will likely still be eligible for benefits at this time. You can find out more about the work incentives including a Ticket to Work in Social Security’s Red Book available online at http://www.ssa.gov. If you are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), not Social Security, the first $65 is excluded from counting against benefits ($85 if you have no other income) and then your SSI benefit goes down by $1 for every $2 above the base exclusion and your unreported work will make you overpaid.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Jonathan says:

        Kay, thank you so much for your feedback and help. I’m a bit afraid of losing my SSI before I’m sure that I can really work again, so I’m interested in treading carefully when interacting with the SSA.

        I realize now — I neglected to think it through at the time — that I was supposed to have reported the earnings as they were happening, and I regret not having done so. I assume that at this point they will calculate the amount by which my payments for 2014 should have been reduced, based upon my income, and either ask for the amount back or take it from upcoming payments. Is that right, and should I expect any sort of penalty for not having reported the income at the time I was earning it?

        I’m not clear on what you meant by “depreciation” within the context of my net earnings. I assume the relevant “net earnings” figure is that which is on my tax return. Is that correct?

        I’m also thinking I might be wise to include a note explaining how I’m essentially testing the waters to see if I am able to work again for a sustained period of time and hopefully get off of SSI entirely. Does this sound like a wise thing to do?

        Lastly, It seems likely to me that upon receiving my completed Disability Update Report, along with my 1099 and tax return, that they will begin a broader investigation as to whether or not I still qualify for SSI, which is fine except that makes me a bit anxious. Just so as I can be emotionally prepared, do you think I’m correct that this is likely?

        Thank you again!

        Regards,
        Jonathan

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Jonathan,

          The course of action you outline is a good one. Include the note that your describe. The tax document you need to attach is your Schedule C from your tax return. Your 1099 presumably is your gross earnings. If you have any deductible business expenses they would show up on your Schedule C where you would calculate your profit, which is your net earnings. Depreciation could come into play if you bought equipment or other property to run you business; a tax accountant can explain it.

          If you have not yet filed your taxes and can’t get them done before the disability update report has to been submitted, then tell them that you started self-employment and that you will submit your Schedule C as soon as it is prepared. If you have an estimate of your business expenses, subtract that from the amount on the 1099 and give them an estimated profit. Describe your work duties, the number of hours you work per week, the months in which you worked, and health-related problems you have had one the job.

          If you are overpaid and continue to be eligible for benefits, they will withhold benefits. If the overpayment is large and the benefits are small, you may be asked to make additional monthly payments.

          A review of whether or not you are still disabled and, therefore, whether or not SSI benefits can continue, is already underway as signified by the SSA-455-OCR-SM form you received. The claims examiner will review your medical condition and your work activity to determine whether you are still disabled.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  14. Darrel says:

    I have been on disability for 2 years or so- I got a letter that they are cutting me off- this due to the fact my cancer is not spreading- however the side effects of the radiation just wont go away and have kept me homebound- do I NEED to hire a lawyer for the appeals- so far they tell me it will cost thousands for them to represent me and I really cant afford it.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Darrel,

      Attorneys specializing in Social Security Disability typically take cases on a contingency basis and receive payment for their services only if they are successful in getting you. The amount they can charge is set by Social Security law–25% of back pay up to a maximum of $6,000.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

      • anonymous says:

        How is the 25% calculated if there is no backdate?

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Anonymous,

          If there is no back benefits due, then the attorney will not be paid directly by Social Security. I am uncertain about whether you have an obligation to pay a fee. Check the representation agreement you signed and consult with the Social Security Administration.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

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