Can Your Disability Benefits Be Taken Away? (2023)

Social Security rarely terminates disability benefits due to medical improvement, but you can lose your SSDI or SSI benefits because of other factors, like income.

Although it's rare, there are circumstances under which the Social Security Administration (SSA) can end your disability benefits. Let's take a look at the most common reasons Social Security could take away your disability benefits.

When a Continuing Disability Review Can End Your Benefits

At some point, your disability case will likely undergo a continuing disability review (CDR). The SSA conducts a CDR to see if you still meet the eligibility requirements for disability or if your condition has improved so much that you can return to work.

Timing of Continuing Disability Reviews

CDRs usually happen about every three years. If you're over the age of 50, or if your medical condition is unlikely to ever improve, a CDR might happen only every seven years.

If your disability claim was approved after a disability hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who approved your claim might think it's likely that your condition will get better. In that case, the ALJ can require that your case be reviewed sooner than three years and will include this requirement in the written decision.

Once a CDR is scheduled, your case is sent to your local Disability Determination Service (DDS) agency. DDS will look over any new medical evidence in your case and may send you to be examined by a Social Security doctor (called a "consultative examination").

Review Standard for Stopping Benefits

Adult CDRs. If you're an adult, the SSA can take away your disability benefits only if the evidence shows that:

  • you've had medical improvement, as it relates to your ability to work, and
  • you can now engage in "substantial gainful activity" (SGA), defined as earning $1,470 per month (in 2023) from working.

Child CDRs. A child recipient can also undergo a continuing disability review, but a child's claim is reviewed differently than an adult's. A child's benefits will be discontinued if:

  • there has been medical improvement, and
  • the child's impairment(s) no longer results in "marked" or "severe" functional limitations.

A child's benefits can also end if the child has failed to follow prescribed treatment, the child's location is unknown, or in a case involving fraud or failure to cooperate.

(Learn more about how continuing disability reviews work.)

Working Too Much Could Affect Your Benefits

In order to receive disability benefits, your disability must prevent you from working at the substantial gainful activity" (SGA) level. As part of your Social Security disability review, the SSA will look at your earnings. If you're earning above the SGA amount, the SSA will stop your disability benefits, even if you only work part-time.

How Unpaid Work Affects Disability Benefits

It's important to note that even if you aren't being paid to do work, activities you perform for others can affect your benefits. The SSA can decide that your non-work activity is the same as a substantial work activity and stop paying your benefits. This can happen if the amount and type of work you're doing would be paid at the SGA level under different circumstances.

Examples of unpaid work that could be interpreted as substantial work activities include:

  • volunteering
  • running your own business or freelancing, or
  • doing work for family members.

If you're earning money through a return to work plan (like the SSA's Plan to Achieve Self Support (PASS) or Ticket to Work), your earnings shouldn't trigger a CDR. The same is true if you're in a trial work period and you've received more than 24 months of SSDI benefits.

How Work Affects SSI Benefits

The SSA handles its two disability programs, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), somewhat differently. Unlike SSDI recipients, people who receive SSI can work at the SGA level without losing benefits. However, you must:

  • earn less than the SSI income limit
  • get benefits for at least a month before returning to work, and
  • still be disabled.

How Turning 18 Can Affect Disabled Child Benefits

If your child receives SSI benefits because of a disability, the SSA will conduct a "redetermination of eligibility" when the child turns 18. During the redetermination period, the SSA will continue to pay your child's benefits.

As your child approaches the age of 18, the SSA will review the child's case using the adult disability standards. If your child continues to meet the eligibility requirements under the adult standards, SSI benefits won't be terminated when the child turns 18.

If your child receives Social Security benefits based on a parent's eligibility (due to the parent's disability or death), those benefits may stop when the child turns 18 (19 if your child is a full-time student). But if your child is also disabled, the SSI benefits can continue (learn more about getting Social Security disability for an adult child).

The SSA will send a notice when it's time for a redetermination of your child's benefits. You must respond to the notice, or the benefits could be discontinued. If the SSA determines that your child isn't eligible for adult disability benefits, you can appeal the decision.

How Incarceration Affects Social Security Disability

If you're getting disability benefits and you're incarcerated for either a felony or misdemeanor, the SSA will stop paying your benefits—either temporarily or permanently. When your benefits would stop depends on whether you're getting SSDI or SSI benefits.

Incarceration and SSI

The SSA will suspend SSI benefits after one full month of incarceration. For example, if your sentence begins on January 15, your benefits would stop on March 1. When you're released from jail, you can get your benefits restarted if they were suspended for less than 12 months, but you must provide the SSA with proof of your release.

Incarceration and Other Social Security Benefits

For Social Security benefits other than SSI, the SSA will suspend your benefits if you're convicted of a criminal offense and sentenced to jail or prison for more than 30 continuous days. You can get your benefits restarted when you get out of jail, but again, you'll need to provide the SSA with proof of release.

How Specific Crimes and Circumstances Can Affect Your Disability

Living in any kind of facility managed by the department of corrections will affect your benefits. These rules also apply to people in halfway houses. But, if you're under house arrest (home monitoring), you're still eligible to receive benefits.

Some crimes can make a recipient ineligible for benefits (like treason or certain acts of terrorism). Fleeing felons and parole violators also lose their benefits.

(Learn more about getting disability when you've been convicted of a crime.)

How Reaching Retirement Age Affects Disability

If you're eligible for retirement and you're getting disability now, when you reach full retirement age, your Social Security disability benefits will simply convert to retirement benefits. Because full retirement benefits are generally equal to SSDI payments, your benefit amount shouldn't change. So, although you'll technically lose your disability benefits at retirement, your retirement benefit will make up for the loss.

You Can Lose Disability Benefits If You Commit Fraud

If the SSA determines that a disability claim was in any way fraudulent and the fraud affected the outcome of the claim, the applicant's benefits will stop. You will lose benefits if you knowingly do any of the following:

  • give false information about your identity (like using a false Social Security number)
  • give a false statement about or misrepresent facts that could affect your disability case
  • give false information about how much money you've earned
  • give false information about whether or not you're self-employed, or
  • hide or don't report anything that might affect your right to benefits.

How Changes in Assets or Income Affect Disability

If you're receiving SSI, changes in your financial resources can result in a loss or reduction of your benefits. The SSA has set limits for your personal and family income and assets, as well as financial help you get from others.

SSI Personal Income Limit

The SSA counts both earned income (wages) and unearned income (such as alimony) toward your SSI income limit. For 2023, the individual income limit is $914; income over that amount can cause the SSA to reduce your benefits.

SSI Asset Limit

To be eligible for SSI, you can't have more than $2,000 in assets. Assets are things of value that a person owns (like cash or investments). Not all assets are counted when the SSA determines your assets.

For example, if you own your primary residence and one car, the SSA will not count these as assets. But if you acquire new assets, like a second car that's worth more than $2,000, you'll stop getting benefits.

How Free Food and Shelter Affect Your SSI

If you receive free food and shelter, the SSA will count it as "in-kind" income, and it can affect your benefits. For example, if you live with your adult child who pays your living expenses, the food and shelter provided to you (rent, mortgage, utilities, groceries, etc.) would be counted as in-kind income, and your SSI benefits would be reduced by one-third.

SSI Family Income Limits

Your parents' or spouse's income will be used to determine your continued eligibility for SSI. For child recipients, a portion of parental income is counted to determine eligibility. If you're a married SSI recipient, the SSA will count at least part of your spouse's income when determining eligibility.

(Learn more about how the SSA calculates income for SSI disability benefits.)

Disability and Death

The SSA will stop paying your disability benefits when you die. However, your family members might become eligible for survivors or widow(er) benefits.

See a Disability Expert

If the SSA has stopped paying your benefits, it might be helpful to discuss your case with an experienced disability attorney.


Is it hard to lose your disability benefits? ›

Social Security rarely terminates disability benefits due to medical improvement, but you can lose your SSDI or SSI benefits because of other factors, like income. Although it's rare, there are circumstances under which the Social Security Administration (SSA) can end your disability benefits.

What can cause you to lose your disability? ›

The Four Most Common Reasons Disability Benefits May Be Revoked in Los Angeles
  • Court-Order Continuing Disability Reviews. ...
  • Making Too Much Income. ...
  • Retirement or Turning 18. ...
  • Arrest and Imprisonment. ...
  • Protect Your Disability Benefits by Working With a California Disability Lawyer.
Mar 14, 2017

What are the three ways you can lose your Social Security? ›

Keep reading to learn about how you could lose some or all of your Social Security benefits.
  • You Forfeit Up To 30% of Your Benefits by Claiming Early. ...
  • You'll Get Less If You Claim Early and Earn Too Much Money. ...
  • The SSA Suspends Payments If You Go to Jail or Prison. ...
  • You Can Lose Some of Your Benefits to Taxes.
May 12, 2023

Can Social Security cut your benefits? ›

You can get Social Security retirement benefits and work at the same time. However, if you are younger than full retirement age and make more than the yearly earnings limit, we will reduce your benefit. Starting with the month you reach full retirement age, we will not reduce your benefits no matter how much you earn.

Can you lose 100% disability? ›

VA can reduce a total rating (i.e., 100% disability rating) only if there is material improvement in the veteran's condition.

What are the chances of losing disability? ›

Although it's possible to lose benefits after a CDR, for most people, it's unlikely. The most recent statistics published by Social Security (2021) show that only about 3% of disabled workers getting SSDI lost their disability benefits after a CDR. And benefits were stopped for only about 4% of adults receiving SSI.

How do I get the $16728 Social Security bonus? ›

To acquire the full amount, you need to maximize your working life and begin collecting your check until age 70. Another way to maximize your check is by asking for a raise every two or three years. Moving companies throughout your career is another way to prove your worth, and generate more money.

How do you know if Social Security is investigating you? ›


SSA opens their investigation by looking you up on the internet. They will look up your name, phone number, and address. They usually already have this information, but they are checking it to make sure you are living at the address that you say you are living at.

What disqualifies you from Social Security? ›

Some American workers do not qualify for Social Security retirement benefits. Workers who don't accrue the requisite 40 credits (roughly ten years of employment) are not eligible for Social Security. Some government and railroad employees are not eligible for Social Security.

What is considered to be a permanent disability? ›

Permanent disability (PD) is any lasting disability from your work injury or illness that affects your ability to earn a living. If your injury or illness results in PD you are entitled to PD benefits, even if you are able to go back to work.

At what age does Social Security disability stop reviewing? ›

Social Security disability reviews stop when you reach full retirement age, which is currently 66 years old. At full retirement age, the SSA will assess your eligibility for continued disability benefits and review any changes to your medical condition or income.

Can SSDI be stopped without notice? ›

Social Security must tell you in writing before it reduces or stops (terminates) your benefits. You can fight their decision to reduce or terminate your benefits by asking for (requesting) reconsideration.

Why would Social Security disability benefits be reduced? ›

Your income reaches or exceeds a certain amount.

If you work while collecting SSDI benefits, your income is measured against your substantial gainful activity (SGA) amount, which is set at $1090 for non-blind workers. Amounts you earn above your SGA will result in a gradual reduction of your benefits.

Can you live off disability? ›

Living and surviving on only SSDI is possible. However, making ends meet with disability benefits alone can be a challenge. It's important to know how to make the most of your benefits and consider other income or benefit sources. Budgeting and minimizing your monthly costs can make it easier to live on SSDI alone.

Why would Social Security benefits be stopped? ›

Any changes in your assets or financial resources can result in a reduction or cessation of your Social Security disability benefits or your supplemental security income. The type of benefits you receive could determine whether certain income or asset changes affect your benefits.

Can permanent and total disability be taken away? ›

Every VA disability rating can be reduced by the VA for a variety of reasons, so the short answer is yes, the VA can take away a permanent and total disability rating, but it is not common.

How much money can you make on disability without losing it? ›

resources-supports.htm. During the trial work period, there are no limits on your earnings. During the 36-month extended period of eligibility, you usually can make no more than $1,470 ($2,460 if you are blind) a month in 2023 or your benefits will stop. These amounts are known as Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).

What makes you 100% disabled? ›

A 100% Rating is given to Disabled Veterans with extremely severe service-connected conditions that usually make the veteran entirely unable to work and mostly unable to care for themselves, including bathing and dressing.

How often does Social Security review your disability? ›

If improvement is expected, your first review generally will be six to 18 months after the date you became disabled. If improvement is possible, but can't be predicted, we'll review your case about every three years. If improvement is not expected, we'll review your case every seven years.

Should I be worried about my disability review? ›

Should I Worry about a Continuing Disability Review? Generally, you should not worry about a Continuing Disability Review if you're still disabled and can not work. However, if your disability has improved or resolved entirely, the SSA may terminate your disability benefits.

What is the average amount a person gets on disability? ›

Average SSDI payments by state
StateAverage monthly SSDI payment
47 more rows
Mar 13, 2023

What is the 10 year rule for Social Security? ›

You must have worked and paid Social Security taxes in five of the last 10 years. If you also get a pension from a job where you didn't pay Social Security taxes (e.g., a civil service or teacher's pension), your Social Security benefit might be reduced.

What is the secret Social Security bonus? ›

There is no specific “bonus” retirees can collect from the Social Security Administration. For example, you're not eligible to get a $5,000 bonus check on top of your regular benefits just because you worked in a specific career. Social Security doesn't randomly award money to people.

What changes are coming to Social Security in 2023? ›

Social Security recipients will get an 8.7% raise for 2023, compared with the 5.9% increase that beneficiaries received in 2022. Maximum earnings subject to the Social Security tax also went up, from $147,000 to $160,200.

Does Social Security disability send out spies? ›

Does Social Security Disability Spy on You? The SSA typically does not spy on people. However, they can send representatives to your Continuing Disability Review or Consultative Examination.

Does SSDI monitor your bank account? ›

For anyone receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Social Security retirement benefits, the Disability Law Office stated that the SSA cannot easily check your bank account because “there is no limit to the assets one has in order to be eligible for benefits,” and permission may not be assumed.

Can I go on vacation while on SSDI? ›

Does being disabled mean you can't take a vacation? The short answer is no. Receiving disability does not amount to a sentence of home confinement. You can and should still enjoy your life as much as possible, and that includes taking a vacation.

What not to say in a disability interview? ›

5 Things Not to Say in a Disability Interview
  • No one will hire me; I can't find work. ...
  • I am not under medical treatment for my disability. ...
  • I have a history of drug abuse or criminal activity. ...
  • I do household chores and go for walks. ...
  • My pain is severe and unbearable. ...
  • Legal Guidance When SSDI Benefits Are Denied.

Do stay at home moms get Social Security? ›

Just because you don't bring home a paycheck doesn't mean you're not working. A stay-at-home parent can get a Social Security check just like any other worker.

What is the lowest Social Security payment? ›

The Social Security special minimum benefit provides a primary insurance amount (PIA) to low-earning workers. The lowest minimum PIA in 2023, with at least 11 years of work, is $49.40 per month. The full minimum PIA, which requires at least 30 years of work, is $1,033.50 per month.

What makes a disability permanent and total? ›

Permanent and Total disability, or P&T, refers to veterans whose disabilities are total (rated 100 percent disabling by VA) and permanent (have zero or close to zero chance of improvement).

What's the easiest thing to get disability for? ›

Arthritis and other musculoskeletal disabilities are the most commonly approved conditions for disability benefits. If you are unable to walk due to arthritis, or unable to perform dexterous movements like typing or writing, you will qualify.

What happens if you are on disability and then turn 65? ›

Social Security disability benefits automatically change to retirement benefits when disability beneficiaries become full retirement age. The law does not allow a person to receive both retirement and disability benefits on one earnings record at the same time.

What is the five year rule on Social Security disability? ›

No waiting period is required if you were previously entitled to disability benefits or to a period of disability under § 404.320 any time within 5 years of the month you again became disabled.

What is the most hours you can work on disability? ›

Social Security typically allows up to 45 hours of work per month if you're self-employed and on SSDI. That comes out to around 10 hours per week. The SSA will also see whether or not you're the only person working for your business.

Why was my disability cut off? ›

If your review determines that you are no longer adequately disabled to receive benefits, your payments will be terminated. There are generally two things outside of incarceration, fraud, and death that can cause this determination to be made.

Why was my disability check reduced this month? ›

State or federal retirement benefits, including those received from civil service employment, can also affect the amount of your disability payments. The SSA will recalculate your monthly disability benefits once retirement payments kick in and you may see a decrease in SSD payments.

What happens if you become disabled while on Social Security? ›

If you become disabled after filing early for retirement benefits, you may be able to change to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Similarly, if you retire early but belatedly discover that an existing condition might have qualified you for a higher disability benefit, you may be able claim it retroactively.

How much can I make on disability without losing it? ›

resources-supports.htm. During the trial work period, there are no limits on your earnings. During the 36-month extended period of eligibility, you usually can make no more than $1,470 ($2,460 if you are blind) a month in 2023 or your benefits will stop. These amounts are known as Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).

Can you go away while on disability? ›

The short answer is no. Receiving disability does not amount to a sentence of home confinement. You can and should still enjoy your life as much as possible, and that includes taking a vacation.

What is the most money you can make on disability? ›

How Much Money Can You Make on Social Security Disability? You can make no more than $1,470 per month (or $2,460 if you are blind) in 2023 on Social Security Disability, which is known as Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). If you do, your benefits will stop.

How much will disability checks be in 2023? ›

In 2023, the maximum amount you can earn from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is $3,627 per month. That's a nice sum, but most people won't get that much. The average SSDI benefit is only about $1,358.

Is a disability a permanent condition? ›

Generally, disabilities can be divided into two categories: temporary disabilities and permanent disabilities. The difference between these two types of disabilities is the length of time the disabling condition is expected to last.

Can I get off disability and go back to work? ›

Yes, you can return to work while receiving Social Security disability benefits. We have special rules that allow you to work without jeopardizing your benefits. This includes a nine-month Trial Work Period to test your ability to work.

What is years of living with disability? ›

“Years lived with disability” (YLD) is a measure reflecting the impact an illness has on quality of life before it resolves or leads to death. YLDs account for the severity of a disability and are typically weighted so that young adult ages are valued higher than infants or the very elderly.

What is the best state to live in if you are on disability? ›

Massachusetts – This state topped their list with the second-best livability score and fourth-best health care score. Though 10th on the list for walkability and public transit, 98.3% of residents with a disability have health insurance.


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