We Help Clients Nationwide Secure and Protect Essential Social Security Disability Benefits

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provide health insurance coverage and monthly payments to people who qualify. These benefits can help recipients make ends meet, access appropriate medical care for their condition, and improve their quality of life. 

If you can’t work due to a disabling medical impairment, you could be entitled to SSI or SSDI. Unfortunately, the application process is complex, lengthy, and frustrating. The Social Security Administration (SSA) denies roughly 70 percent of applicants in the initial stage of its five-step sequential evaluation. Even if you gain approval for vital benefits, it’s possible to lose them, which could leave you in a precarious position.

At Disability Services of America, we help people just like you secure and safeguard the SSI or SSDI benefits they deserve. Discover how we could assist you with your Social Security disability application and navigate the infamous evaluation process.

Social Security Disability Eligibility 

The SSA manages two programs for people with severe disabilities who cannot engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program that serves people with disabilities who have low incomes and limited resources. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a social insurance program for people with disabilities who’ve worked long enough—and recently enough—in jobs that pay into Social Security. 

You might be eligible for SSI if:

  • You have a qualifying disability. 
  • You earn less than $1,970 per month (in 2024).
  • You have no more than $2,000 in resources (common resources include vehicles and money in bank accounts).

You could qualify for SSDI if:

  • You have a medically determinable impairment (MDI) established by objective medical evidence from acceptable medical sources (AMS).
  • Your MDI prevents SGA, meaning you earn less than $1,550 per month, or $2,590 for blind applicants (in 2024).
  • Your MDI has lasted—or is expected to last—for at least 12 months or result in death.

How Social Security Disability Recipients Could Lose Benefits

Getting approved for SSI or SSDI is often a long and exhausting process. After completing your application and successfully securing benefits, the last thing you want is to lose them. You could find yourself back at square one, fighting for SSI or SSDI for a second time. Here are some of the most common ways that Social Security disability recipients lose benefits.

Reaching Retirement Age 

The law doesn’t allow people to collect Social Security disability and Social Security retirement benefits simultaneously. When you reach full retirement age, your SSI or SSDI benefits stop, and you automatically begin receiving retirement benefits instead.

Experiencing Health Improvements

The SSA periodically reviews claimants’ cases to ensure they’re still disabled and eligible for SSI or SSDI benefits. Known as Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs), these reevaluations require you to provide all medical records and employment information—including job type, dates, and earnings—since the SSA last contacted you. The agency makes its decision after assessing your updated information. 

In most cases, if your condition hasn’t changed and you aren’t working, the SSA will continue your benefits. However, if you’re employed and engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA) or have experienced significant health improvements, you risk losing essential benefits.

Engaging in Substantial Gainful Activity 

SSDI is only available to qualifying applicants with medical conditions severe enough to prevent substantial gainful activity. SGA is an earnings threshold the administration uses to determine if you’re disabled.  

For 2024, SGA limits are $2,590 per month for blind people and $1,550 for everyone else. The SSA updates the SGA amount annually to keep pace with the national average wage index.

Other Ways to Lose SSI or SSDI Benefits

Your Social Security disability benefits could also stop if: 

  • The SSA mistakenly awarded you benefits or approved a previous CDR in error.
  • You provided false or misleading information to the SSA, which served as the basis for a previous decision. 
  • You’ve benefited from medical advancements or vocational training that allows you to return to work.
  • You won’t cooperate with the SSA and don’t have a good reason for the lack of cooperation.
  • You refuse to follow your prescribed treatment plan—without a good reason—and could probably work if you did.
  • You become incarcerated. 

Ticket to Work Serves SSI and SSDI Recipients Interested in Employment

When receiving SSDI, engaging in substantial gainful employment is a surefire way to lose your benefits. However, that doesn’t mean Social Security disability recipients can’t work. Not only are disability recipients allowed to work, but the SSA even offers training and support to help you reenter the workforce, find a fulfilling job, and succeed in the workplace.

Ticket to Work Basics

Ticket to Work is a free and voluntary work incentive and career development program for SSI and SSDI beneficiaries ages 18 through 64 who want to work. This program provides vital services and support, empowering people with disabilities to increase their financial independence and quality of life.

Participants assign their Ticket to a state vocational rehabilitation agency or an SSA-approved Employment Network (EN) like Disability Services of America. Our employment specialists offer wide-ranging free career development services, including:

  • Career counseling
  • Resumé development and practice job interviews
  • Benefits counseling with our community partner work incentive coordinators 
  • EEOC and ADA rights advocacy 
  • Job placement and development
  • Ongoing employment support

How Ticket to Work Can Help Protect Your Disability Benefits 

Though working or earning too much could typically cost you your SSI or SSDI, Ticket to Work protects your benefits while you test your ability to return to full-time employment. When you assign your Ticket to Work case to Disability Services of America, we partner with you to develop realistic and achievable career goals. Then, we provide or connect you to targeted services to help you achieve your objectives. Consider these examples of how the Ticket program could help prevent you from losing critical benefits.

Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs)

An essential part of the Ticket to Work program involves creating an Individual Work Plan (IWP) based on your career goals. The IWP allows you and the SSA to track your progress as you work through the program. As long as you’re continuing to make progress, the SSA won’t conduct a CDR to reassess your medical condition.

Trial Work Period 

For SSDI recipients, the program also includes a trial work period (TWP) of at least nine months, which don’t have to be consecutive. The SSA counts each month that you earn $1,110 or more—or work more than 80 self-employment hours—as a TWP service month. Your trial work period can last for up to 60 months (five years). It ends when you’ve earned nine TWP service months. The SSA provides full SSDI benefits during your trial work period, regardless of what you earn, as long as you report your work activity and still have a disabling medical condition.  

Expedited Reinstatement 

SSI and SSDI recipients who achieve financial independence through the Ticket to Work program are eligible for expedited reinstatement (ER). If your disability prevents work after your benefits stop due to substantial gainful activity, you can contact the SSA to have them reinstated. The SSA will even provide up to six months of temporary SSI or SSDI benefits while it makes its decision. ER not only accelerates benefits reinstatement but also saves you the headache of going through the Social Security disability application process again.

Our Experienced Employment Specialists Can Help You Apply for Disability or Reenter the Workforce 

Social Security disability programs are complicated. Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate these confusing and frustrating processes alone. Disability Services of America helps clients with disabilities explore their eligibility, complete their SSI or SSDI application, and advocate for much-needed benefits. As an SSA-approved Employment Network, we also help ticketholders prepare for a successful return to employment. Discover how we could assist you!