At Silver & Silver, after we have helped our clients secure the disability benefits they are entitled to under the law, our Social Security Disability attorneys continue to guide them and answer questions regarding maintaining eligibility for benefits. If you are receiving Social Security Disability benefits, you may have the following questions:
- How long will I receive disability benefits?
- Will my disability benefits last forever?
- What do I have to do to keep receiving disability benefits?
- Do I need to fill out any more applications or see more doctors?
These questions raise understandable uncertainty. You may depend on Social Security Disability benefits for basic living needs and healthcare. Understanding if and when your eligibility will end is imperative.
Duration of Social Security Disability Benefits
Once Social Security Disability benefits begin, you may then become concerned about how long they will continue. The short answer is that in most cases once a recipient is collecting Social Security Disability benefits it is likely that they will continue to receive benefits for their lifetime, as long as they remain disabled. It is assumed that with age their disabling condition will likely get worse, not better. Also, the older a person gets the more likely their work skills will diminish and their ability to find work they are capable of doing decreases. The older a person gets the harder it is for them to learn new skills.
However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is charged with reviewing disability cases periodically to see if the person with a disability still meets SSA disability qualifications. The SSA performs two types of reviews: a medical continuing disability review and a work continuing disability review. Under a work review, the SSA will determine if you are working and look at your earnings to determine if you are still eligible for benefits. A medical review will determine if your medical condition still constitutes a “disability” pursuant to the SSA requirements.
Circumstances Affecting Eligibility for Disability Benefits
Returning to Work; Substantial Gainful Activity; Work Incentives
Certain circumstances may affect your eligibility to collect Social Security Disability benefits. Benefits typically discontinue if you return to work, or in Social Security terms, engage in “substantial gainful activity”. The SSA defines substantial gainful activity as work involving significant and productive duties; paying more than the current monthly income limit set by the SSA – $1,010 for 2012; and including part-time work that pays less and/or involves less responsibility than your regular employment.
When reviewing your eligibility for continuing benefits, the SSA will employ the same process for determining whether you are involved in substantial gainful activity, as when you originally applied for benefits. Click here to read the about the 5-Step Social Security Disability Claims Qualification Review Process. If you are determined to be working, that is, engaged in substantial gainful activity, then your eligibility for benefits will likely be terminated, even if your medical condition has not improved.
There are special rules that may allow you to continue receiving Social Security Disability benefits for a while after you return to work. The special rules, called “Work Incentives”, seek to encourage you to return to work to test your ability to return to substantial gainful activity. Work incentives include:
- Continued cash benefits for a time while you work;
- Continued Medicare or Medicaid while you work; and
- Assistance with education, training and vocational rehabilitation to start a new line of work.
The Philadelphia disability attorneys at Silver & Silver can guide you through the “work incentive” process if that is right for your situation and ensure that you continue to receive the disability benefits to which you are entitled.
Improvement in Medical Condition
Your continuing eligibility to collect Social Security Disability benefits will stop if your medical condition improves to the point that you are no longer considered disabled. If your medical condition improves, it is your responsibility to inform the SSA; however, the SSA is required by law to periodically review your case. The frequency of the reviews depends on the probability of your condition improving. If your medical condition is “expected” to improve, your case will be reviewed within six to eighteen months after your benefits start. If it is “possible” that your medical condition will improve, your case will be reviewed no sooner than three years. If it is “not expected” that your medical condition will improve, your case will not be reviewed any sooner than seven years after you started receiving benefits.
Philadelphia Disability Attorneys at Silver & Silver Help Our Clients Maintain Continuing Eligibility for Social Security Disability Benefits
The Philadelphia Social Security Disability attorneys at Silver & Silver guide our clients through the Social Security Administration’s Continuation Review to help ensure a successful Disability claim stays a successful Disability claim. Our attorneys work diligently to gather the necessary proofs so that our clients’ continuation review for benefits is presented in the most advantageous light. If an appeal to an Administrative Judge becomes necessary, our experienced, skillful litigators are prepared to fight for our clients’ rights in court. We strive to provide superior legal representation so that our clients will be awarded and keep the Disability benefits to which they are entitled.
With offices in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, we are conveniently located to meet with disabled individuals and their families throughout the Philadelphia region including Delaware County, Montgomery County, Bucks County, Chester County and Berks County, as well as the South Jersey communities of Camden County, Burlington County, Gloucester County, Cumberland County and Atlantic County and others. Call us to schedule a free consultation at 1-800-94-SILVER or contact us online.