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After My Award for Social Security Disability Benefits, It Was Taken Away…Can They Do That?

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car accident claimYou worked all your life but when your physical or mental condition had gotten to the point where you could no longer work, you applied for Social Security Disability.  But, once you were awarded your benefits are they safe from further review by the Social Security Administration?  The answer is no.  The Social Security Administration is required by law to review the current medical condition of all those who are receiving disability benefits to make sure a qualifying disability still exists.  This means the Administration is required to make sure that the medical condition which the Administrative Law Judge found prevents you from working is still present and would still prevent you from working or substantial gainful activity.

How often does the Social Security Administration review the qualifying disabilities of its current beneficiaries?  Well, the answer depends on the nature and severity of your medical condition and whether or not the Administrative Law Judge expects your condition to improve.  If you are expected to improve, your benefits can be reviewed as early as 6 to 18 months from the date you became disabled.  If improvement of your condition is considered possible, then a review is typically performed about every three years.  However, if your condition is not expected to improve, your qualifying disability is likely to be reviewed only every 7 years.  For more information, see: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10068.pdf

When the Social Security Administration reviews your qualifying disability, they will typically review your medical records over the past 12 months.  This review will consider any changes in your condition and will also look into any new health problems that have emerged.  Remember that if you receive notice that your benefits are being stopped because a review has determined that you condition has improved to the point where you can work, you only have 60 days to appeal that decision and should immediately discuss your situation with an attorney experienced in handling Social Security Disability claims.

Also be aware that you must notify the Social Security Administration in writing within 10 days of the letter notifying you that your benefits will stop that you want your benefits to continue while your appeal is considered.  However, if you elect to continue to receive your benefits and your appeal is unsuccessful, you will owe the Social Security Administration back the money you were paid since receiving the letter that your benefits were stopped.  You can request a waiver (  https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-632.pdf) to avoid paying back the benefits you received so long as you made your appeal in “good faith.”  This typically means that you cooperated with Social Security in providing medical records or requested information concerning your medical condition and treatment.

The best advice to avoid this situation is to consistently and regularly continue to see your physician regarding your medical condition following your award.  That way if your award is reviewed, the Administration will see that your condition has continued and through the medical notes will have evidence as to whether or not it has improved.

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