Myth #7: I Don't Need My Benefits as long as I Have a Job, but if I Have to Stop Working, I Won't Be Able to Get My Benefits Back

I’m working right now and am doing pretty well. However, my disability gets worse sometimes. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to get on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) when I need them. What if they assume that the fact that I was once able to work means I’m not disabled anymore?

If you are not able to keep working or if you need to work fewer hours, you might worry about going through the long process of applying for benefits again. Luckily, there are some helpful rules that allow your benefits to be restarted without you having to reapply.

SSI
  • If you are on the SSI 1619(b) program and your income drops below a certain level, you are eligible for SSI benefits again without needing to reapply. For information on this, talk to a Benefits Planner.
  • Once you are no longer eligible for SSI or 1619(b), you may be eligible for Expedited Reinstatement (EXR). If your earnings from work cause your SSI benefits to stop and you were eligible for SSI within the last five years, you can use EXR to begin getting SSI benefits again.
  • To learn more about these, read Social Security's article on SSI Work Benefits and DB101's SSI article.
SSDI
  • The Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE) begins the first month after your Trial Work Period ends; the EPE lasts for 36 months (three years) in a row. During this time, if you earn less than the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level in a month you get your SSDI benefits that month. If you earn more than the SGA level, you don't get SSDI benefits. You don't need to reapply to get your SSDI benefits if your earnings are below the SGA level.
  • After the EPE ends, you may be eligible for Expedited Reinstatement (EXR). If you no longer earn the amount that caused your benefits to end and your benefits ended less than five years ago, you can use EXR to get your SSDI benefits restarted.
  • To learn more about these, read Social Security’s page about work incentives and DB101’s SSDI article.