Most people who are approved for disability benefits through Social Security will continue to collect benefits uninterrupted until they reach full retirement age, at which time their disability benefits will switch automatically to retirement benefits in the same amount. But there are a few instances where monthly payments might stop.
If your disabling condition improves to the point where you can work again above the threshold of substantial gainful activity, your benefits will cease. In 2021, the substantial gainful activity threshold is $1,310 per month in income for a non-blind individual and $2,190 for a blind individual.
Additionally, if you become incarcerated for more than thirty days, your benefits will stop while you are in prison, but they can be reinstated after you are released. And if you return to work without telling Social Security Administration (SSA), but SSA finds out, your benefits will be terminated.
You can breathe a sigh of relief when you are approved for benefits, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never hear from SSA again. Depending on what your disabling condition is and the likelihood that your condition will improve, SSA conducts Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) every 18 months, three years, or seven years, respectively. During these CDRs, you do not have to prove all over again that you are disabled, but SSA is looking to make sure you are still eligible.
If you feel better, you can attempt to return to work on a trial basis that will not jeopardize your benefits. You can earn income during this trial for up to nine months before you are at risk of losing your benefits, but if you have to stop working because of your disability at any point during that period, your benefits will continue as normal.
No matter what you do, continue to see your doctors, follow their treatments, and manage your condition to the best of your ability. Your doctors should still keep detailed records about your day-to-day routine and mention any ways in which your disability prevents you from working and engaging in normal activities.