How to Avoid Problems with the Social Security Administration Following a Favorable Decision

While prevailing in your Social Security disability claim may be a huge relief, it is important to remember that there are certain obligations one continues to have with the Social Security Administration (SSA).  Likewise, there are a number of considerations one needs to take place moving forward to ensure that one does not experience a problem down the road with SSA.   With that in mind, we’ve made a checklist to assist you. 

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that an award of Social Security disability and/or Supplement Security Income benefits is not forever.   SSA has come to the conclusion that for some period of time, longer than a year, you have remained disabled from working in any gainful manner from a severe medical impairment that despite prescribed treatment has kept you from working.   Periodic reviews typically do take place, unless one is much older and nearing retirement age (in which case, it is anticipated by SSA that your SSDI benefits will change over to Social Security retirement benefits).  However,  unless you are very near retirement age, it is quite important that one remain in treatment for any condition that they believe is  severe and disabling (and, as we advise all of our clients, for any condition that one does believe remains severe and disabling, they should be remaining in treatment with a specialist for these conditions).  In this way, if there is a review of your claim, then there will be ample documentation from your physician visits to show that your condition has remained severe and disabling, despite prescribed treatment.

Second, and just as important, is the requirement upon receiving an award of Social Security disability benefits which includes the right to ongoing benefits is that they are reporting their income on a regular basis.  This is important for a number of reasons.  For one, the receipt of earned income needs to be considered by SSA in determining whether it constitutes an amount that go towards one’s Trial Work Period.  As discussed in SSA’s website, “[d]uring a trial work period, a beneficiary receiving Social Security disability benefits may test his or her ability to work and still be considered disabled. We do not consider services performed during the trial work period as showing that the disability has ended until services have been performed in at least 9 months (not necessarily consecutive) in a rolling 60-month period. ”  An amount earned in excess of $810.00 in a given month in 2016 would use up a trial work period months; this amount has been increased to $840.00 in 2017.

This does not mean that upon the using up of one’s trial work period months that benefits will necessarily end.  The Social Security regulations do provide for what is called an Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE), which follows the expiration of a trial work period month, which is a period of 36 months.  During this time period, assuming one’s income does return below the level of gainful wages in a given month, one may request reinstatement of benefits for that month.

Thus, it is extremely important that one report their income consistently or one may face a number of bad consequences resulting from what can be an “overpayment” on the account.  In part II of this blog, we’ll discuss other ways how a potential overpayment process can result and the detrimental consequences that can take place as a result of such a process.

Should you or a loved one of yours find themselves out of work as a result of a long term injury or illness, contact the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at 1-800-773-8622.  We have 27 years of assisting New England’s disabled, throughout Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire with their long term disability claims and appeals.