Many people wait a really long time to receive disability benefits from Social Security. However, once your application is approved, your contact with the Social Security Administration is not over. Besides getting a monthly benefit, you still need to stay in touch with SSA about a number of things that can affect your benefits or even result in the loss of your benefits.
- IF YOU WORK: You are required to inform Social Security if you take a job or become self-employed regardless of the amount of money you make. Social Security will want to know what kind of work you are doing, how many hours you are working, and if you start or stop a new job. There are limited amounts of earnings a person can make and still be eligible for their benefits, but the type of work and the hours are both important considerations. You can try to go back to work, and if you notify SSA, your earnings for nine months will not cause your benefits to stop. The nine months do not have to be consecutive, but each month during a sixty month period that you earn over $810.00 per month (for 2016) will count as a month toward your trial return to work. If you aren’t able to continue at a job, you can try other jobs, but any month where you make over $810.00 is counted as one of the nine months for the trial return to work. After the nine-month trial return to work, you can extend your benefits for up to three years if your earnings are not substantial which means $1,130.00 per month (or $1,820 for blind beneficiaries). If your earnings are substantial during one of the thirty-six months, you won’t be eligible benefits for that month, but your benefits don’t stop completely. The bottom line is that the Social Security Administration does not want to discourage people who receive benefits from trying to go back to work if they find something they think they may be able to do. However, the rules about going back to work are complicated, and it is a good idea to talk with an experienced Social Security attorney about going back to work before you start.
- IF YOU RECEIVE OTHER TYPES OF DISABILITY BENEFITS: You are required to inform Social Security if you are receiving or may be eligible for workers compensation, black lung benefits, or other federal, state or local government benefits. The Social Security Administration requires you to tell them if you apply for another type of disability benefits or if you receive another type of benefit whether it is monthly or a lump-sum settlement. You are also required to tell SSA if your “other” benefits change or stop. One example of this would be if you were receiving monthly workers compensation benefits, but then settled the claim for a lump-sum amount. Depending on the “other” benefit, or the amount received, you may become ineligible for your Social Security benefits, or the amount may change.
- IF YOU MOVE OR YOUR ADDRESS CHANGES: If you are planning to move, you should notify the Social Security Administration as soon as you know your new address. You should also notify them if you change from a post office box to your physical address, or if you get a post office box and stop receiving mail at your home. Sometimes, your address may change, even if you don’t move, because of 911 addresses or because the United States Post Office changes your address due to changes in delivery or zip codes. If you get Social Security or Medicare benefits, go to mySocialSecurity online to change your address. If you get Supplemental Security Income, contact your local Social Security office. It is important for the Social Security Administration to be able to send you letters or other important If they are unable to contact you, your benefits may be stopped or suspended. This is true even if your direct deposit account information does not change. You should also inform Social Security if a family member who receives benefits if moving with you, or if a family member moves out of your home.
If you have questions about what you should tell the Social Security Administration after you begin receiving benefits, you should contact an experienced Social Security attorney.