After the long, tedious journey of getting approved for Social Security disability benefits, many claimants don't realize that their benefits could be lost. From time to time, the Social Security Administration (SSA) reviews cases to determine whether the disabled beneficiary is still considered disabled. To make this determination, they will look at any improvements in your condition since your original approval, as well as any new evidence of an increased ability to sustain substantial gainful employment.
If the SSA reviews your case and decides that you are no longer disabled, your benefits--including any medical benefits you may have been receiving--will be discontinued. However, as with the original claim that was submitted, claimants have the opportunity to appeal the decision to discontinue benefits if they feel they are still disabled. There are four levels of appeals:
• Reconsideration - Similar to the original process, fresh eyes at the SSA will reconsider your case and the subsequent review that determined your loss of benefits.
• Hearing - If you are denied during the reconsideration, you may request a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ) for further examination of your case.
• Appeals Council - The Council will decide to either uphold the decision of your ALJ hearing, or they will arrange for another hearing with a different judge to retry your case.
• Federal Court - If your case is denied on the first three levels and you are unsatisfied with the result and explanation, you may file a lawsuit in a federal district court.
Get in touch with your former disability attorney; someone with background knowledge of your case can help jumpstart the appeals process. Your attorney can determine if you have a case for appealing the loss of your benefits and then walk you through the appeals process, ensuring that your appeals are made by the appropriate 60-day deadlines.
For those that rely on their benefit money and are confident that an appeal will be approved, you may request to continue receiving your monthly benefit payments while you appeal, as long as your appeal is filed within ten days of receiving notification of discontinued benefits. If the appeal is ultimately denied, though, beneficiaries will have to repay any benefits received during the appeals process.