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

By   /  November 11, 2012  /  8 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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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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  1. Anonymous says:


    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.


  2. 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.


      • 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!


        • 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.


  3. 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.



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