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Understanding Benefits Cessation Before You Apply for Social Security Disability

When an individual decides to apply for social security disability benefits, one of the factors which is not often considered during the initial claim filing is the termination of benefits. When you apply for social security disability, you will want to be able to effectively forecast your estimated benefits over the course of your disability to help successfully plan your personal budget so that you can meet your living expenses. That being said, it is critical to understand when benefits cease and how changes in your disability or work status can trigger cessation of your benefits.

If you apply for social security disability benefits and are hoping to understand what situations may cause your benefits to cease, it is first important to clarify the difference between cessation of benefits and termination of benefits. The administration applies the term “cessation” to cases in which they have determined that you are no longer eligible for benefits because you no longer qualify as disabled according to the definition employed for determining benefits eligibility. Alternatively, the administration uses the phrase “termination” of benefits to refer to the actual cancellation of benefits payments which occurs two months immediately after your disability has ceased, or “cessation of benefits”.

As an illustrative example, if your disability is determined to have ceased in the month of January, your benefits will be terminated in the month of March. You will received disability benefits for the months of January, February, and March, but no benefits for the month of April forward.

After you apply for social security disability and begin receiving benefits, the administration will periodically review your current medical status to ensure that you still meet the definition of disabled and subsequently are not able to engage in substantial gainful activity. For more information on how SGA determines disability status, you may want to refer to this article which describes the definitions in detail.

If the administration determines that your medical condition no longer prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity, they will initiate cessation of your benefits. It is important to note that cessation of benefits is not official until the administration has delivered written notice to you of this determination and cessation.

It is also critical to understand that voluntarily engaging in substantial gainful activity which exceeds the minimum earnings test will initiate cessation of benefits. In the event that you do go back to work, it is important to notify the administration of these changes as you may be entitled to a trial work period of up to nine months during which time your income from substantial gainful activity may not be considered.

If you are planning to apply for social security disability benefits, it is important to take some time to understand how the conditions which define your disability and your ability to return to work, should you be able to, affect your benefits entitlement.

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