Social Security Disability Termination: What to Expect

There are several different factors that could result in Social Security disability termination, also called cessation. Reasons can range from reaching retirement to going back to work. Don’t get caught in hot water – if the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines you are no longer qualified to receive disability benefits, you must be armed with the appropriate information to take action on any next steps.

Can Social Security Disability Be Terminated?

To put it simply: yes, it is possible. If you were approved for disability benefits, the SSA will periodically review your case to see if your circumstances have changed. Social Security will look for evidence of work activity or medical improvement since the date that you were approved (called the “comparison point date”).

What Can Cause You to Lose Your Social Security Disability Benefits?

There are several common reasons that can cause someone to lose their Social Security disability benefits:

Returning to Work

If you are able and decide to return to work while still receiving disability benefits, the SSA will evaluate your situation to determine if you are engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA), which is any activity involving significant physical or mental activities, or some combination of both. In addition to this, they will want to determine how much you are getting paid from that job. For 2020, the limitation is $1,260 for non-blind applicants and $2,110 for blind applicants.

One exception to this is a trial work period, which allows a disability benefits recipient to attempt to return to work for up to 9 months without immediately losing their eligibility. If at the end of this trial you’re still able to work and making more than the allocated SGA amount, your disability payments will be terminated.


If you are receiving disability benefits when you reach full retirement age, which varies depending on the year of your birth, you will begin instead to receive payments for the Social Security retirement benefits.


If you are imprisoned after being convicted of a crime, your benefits will be frozen for the period you are incarcerated, beginning after 30 days unless you are participating in a rehab program. Generally, being convicted of a misdemeanor won’t impact your disability benefits unless you’re in jail for a month or more.

No Longer Being Defined as “Disabled”

The SSA has a very strict definition of what qualifies someone as disabled, and you must prove that you meet their criteria in order to receive disability benefits. Some of the requirements include:

  • Condition has a severe impact on your ability to do basic activities such as walking, sitting or retaining information
  • Condition has lasted at least a year, is expected to last at least a year, or is terminal
  • Condition is listed in the SSA’s “Blue Book” of listed impairments
  • Condition prevents you from doing work you did before or other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy

Periodically, the SSA will conduct a review to ensure you still qualify for benefits – this can happen as often as every six months or as little as five to seven years. You will be notified when this review is taking place. If the SSA finds that you no longer meet it’s disability qualifications, your benefits will be terminated.

How Long Does it Take to Reinstate Social Security Disability Benefits?

After receiving word of termination, you typically have about two months before benefits end during which you can appeal the SSA’s decision. The system can be extremely complicated, so you should have a Social Security disability attorney work with and represent you.

Contact the Attorneys at Woodruff & Mathis

If you’re unable to work, Social Security disability benefits may be your only income, so it’s crucial to know what could impact that. If you’re in a position where your disability benefits have been terminated, work with the local disability attorneys at Woodruff & Mathis to determine the next steps you need to take. Contact our Maine Social Security attorney today to learn more about Social Security disability termination.