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SSI/SSDI Post-Entitlement Events Guide

This guide presents common post-entitlement events that occur for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries and provides guidance for SOAR-trained case workers to assist SSI/SSDI beneficiaries with navigating these events to maintain eligibility. However, it is not exhaustive. SSI and SSDI post-entitlement events and rules are numerous, oftentimes complex in nature, and specific to a person’s circumstances.

SSI and SSDI Claimant Rights and SSI Beneficiary Reporting Responsibilities

SSI/SSDI claimants and beneficiaries have defined rights and responsibilities.

Claimant Rights

The Social Security Administration (SSA) gives claimants the right to:

  • apply for benefits (free of charge),
  • get help from SSA to fill in the application forms and get documents they need, and have someone (such as a case worker) help them with their SSI/SSDI claim and go with them when they visit or call SSA,
  • be represented by a qualified individual of their choosing (whether an attorney or a non-attorney),
  • ask to see or get copies of the information in their records,
  • get a letter that will tell them what SSA determined about what benefits they can get and what SSA will pay them,
  • appeal most determinations SSA makes about whether they can get SSI or SSDI benefits or the amount of SSI (if they disagree with SSA’s determination),
  • have the assistance of an interpreter (free of charge) if they do not speak English well enough to do business with SSA,
  • get help from SSA to obtain their medical records, and
  • get copies of the law, regulations, or policy statements used to decide their SSI or SSDI claim.

SSI Beneficiary Responsibilities

  • When someone receives SSI benefits, they have a responsibility to report certain information or changes in their situation to SSA that may affect their SSI eligibility or SSI benefit amount.
  • See a list of what SSI beneficiaries must report to SSA.

Suspensions, Stop Payments, Terminations, and Reinstatements

These events may occur after someone begins to receive SSI benefits.

Benefit Suspensions

Benefit suspensions occur when a beneficiary is no longer eligible for SSI benefits. For example, the person has amassed over $2,000 in resources, their work earnings exceed SGA, they are hospitalized for longer than 30 days, or they become incarcerated. These suspensions are always effective the first day of a month and generally, the person has 12 consecutive months after the effective date of a suspension to have their benefits reinstated if they become eligible again.

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Stop Payments

Stop payments are an interruption in a beneficiary’s payment, but not a loss of eligibility. This can occur when SSA is searching for a representative payee for the beneficiary or if they are eligible for SSI, but not due a payment.

Benefit Terminations

Benefit Terminations occur when a beneficiary no longer has a disabling condition, voluntarily requests their benefits be terminated, or has died.

Benefit Reinstatements

Benefit reinstatements are when SSI benefits resume after a suspension because the beneficiary has once again become eligible. For example, if their SSI benefits were suspended because they had over $2,000 in resources but now, they only have $900 in resources. Or, if their SSI benefits were suspended because of their earnings from work but have stopped working.

Redeterminations of SSI Eligibility and/or Payment Amount

SSA completes Redeterminations every 1 to 6 years for SSI beneficiaries. These can be done over the telephone, in person, or through the mail. A Redetermination is a review of a beneficiary’s SSI non-medical eligibility and is not the same as a Continuing Disability Review (CDR).

  • SSA will review the SSI beneficiary’s income, resources, and living arrangement to make sure they are still eligible for SSI benefits and are receiving the correct payment.
    • If they are under age 18 and living with their parent(s) or are married, SSA will also review the income, resources, and living arrangement of their parent(s) or spouse.
    • If they have a representative payee, their payee will also receive this notification.

    SSI/SSDI Overpayments

    An overpayment is when a beneficiary receives more money for a month than the amount they should have been paid. The amount of the overpayment is the difference between the amount the beneficiary received and the amount that was due to them.

    • If SSA determines that a beneficiary has been overpaid, they will provide a written notice to the beneficiary and their representative payee (if applicable).
    • The written notice will include the reason for overpayment, the overpayment amount, repayment options, and appeal/waiver rights.
    • For information about Overpayments please see the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center’s article, Avoiding and Managing SSI/SSDI Overpayments.

    Capability and an SSI/SSDI Beneficiary’s need for a Representative Payee

    SSA must determine an SSI/SSDI beneficiary’s “capability” before they determine whether the person is able to manage or direct the management of their benefits.

    Lay Evidence of Capability

    • When there is no evidence of legal incompetence, SSA must always develop and consider lay evidence of the person’s capability.
    • Examples of lay evidence: SSA’s observations made during interviews with the person, (the person’s behavior, reasoning ability, how they function with others, etc.), statements made by the person about their ability to manage or not manage their benefits, statements from third-party sources with direct knowledge of facts or circumstances regarding the person’s daily living (family, close friends, clergy, social workers, therapists, case workers, etc.), the opinions of the Disability Determination Services (DDS) and/or the Administrative Law Judge, etc.

    Capability Interview

    • See a complete list of questions that SSA may ask a person in order to develop lay evidence and determine capability.
    • These questions pertain to a person’s financial management skills, their ability to meet their basic needs (through shelter, food, and medical care), their support network, and their thought process. You can assist the persons you work with to prepare for a capability interview by reviewing these questions with them beforehand.
    • See a complete list of questions that SSA may ask a third party in order to develop lay evidence and determine capability. If you would like to provide a third-party verbal or signed statement regarding a person’s capability, these questions could serve as a guide for making your statement to SSA.

    Developing Money Management Skills

    • If an SSI/SSDI beneficiary would like to become their own payee, they can contact SSA to make this request. SSA will need to conduct a capability interview and may require the person to have certain forms completed by their doctor such as the SSA-787. You can assist beneficiaries to develop budgeting and money management skills that will help them successfully manage their own SSI/SSDI benefits if they become their own payee. Here are a few resources that can be shared with the people with whom you work:
      • Mental Health America: Managing Your Money
      • Building Financial Wellness Workbook

      Organizational Payees

      • If your agency or organization is interested in serving as an organizational payee, SSA has information and guides to assist you with this process.
        • How to Become an Organizational Payee Fact Sheet
        • Organizational Payee Training Resources
        • Guide for Organizational Representative Payees

        Retroactive SSI and SSDI Payments

        When claimants are approved for either SSI and/or SSDI benefits they may also be eligible for Retroactive benefits. Retroactive SSI benefits may be paid from the month after the Protective Filing Date (PFD) and Retroactive SSDI benefits may be paid from the established date of onset of disability plus the 5-month waiting period. However, exceptions do exist. For questions about a specific SSI and/or SSDI beneficiary’s Retroactive benefits we encourage you to contact their local SSA field office.

        Retroactive SSI Benefits

        Retroactive SSI benefits, (which include any federally administered State supplementation), are SSI benefits issued in any month after the calendar month for which they are due. For example, benefits for January that are issued in February are retroactive.

        • Retroactive SSI benefits may be paid to the SSI beneficiary in one lump sum or in multiple payments over 6-month increments. This generally depends on the amount of Retroactive SSI benefits the person is entitled to. SSA will pay SSI beneficiaries only three months of SSI benefits at once in their first Retroactive payment. If the SSI beneficiary is owed more than that, SSA will usually pay the beneficiary in two or three installments, six months apart, unless the person can prove they need the money for necessities.
        • The unspent portion of any Retroactive SSI (or SSDI) benefits an SSI beneficiary receives is excluded from the person’s resources for the 9 calendar months following the month in which the beneficiary receives the payment. In other words, the SSI beneficiary has 9 months to “spend down” their Retroactive benefits before these benefits may affect ongoing SSI eligibility. See the SSI Spotlight on Resources for more information about SSI Resource Limits.

        Retroactive SSDI Benefits

        Retroactive SSDI benefits are those issued more than a month after the calendar month for which they are due. For example, SSDI benefits for January that are issued in February are not retroactive, but SSDI benefits for January that are issued in March are retroactive.

        • Retroactive SSDI benefits are generally paid to an SSDI beneficiary in one lump sum payment. If the SSDI beneficiary is only receiving SSDI benefits, (and not SSI), the SSDI beneficiary does not have to “spend down” this Retroactive payment because there are no resource limits for SSDI benefits; therefore, Retroactive payments will not affect ongoing SSDI eligibility.

        “Spending Down” Retroactive Benefits

        It is best practice for SSI beneficiaries or their representative payees to spend down Retroactive SSI (or benefits on exempt resources) to maintain current SSI eligibility.

        • Exempt resources are resources that SSA does not count when determining SSI eligibility.
          • Home expenses: Buying a home, paying off the mortgage on a current home, modifications to a home to accommodate an individual’s disabilities, home repairs/remodeling, home furnishings or appliances
          • Health expenses: Medical expenses/bills not covered by Medicaid or Medicare (buying a better-quality assistive device not covered by Medicaid/Medicare), dental expenses, eyeglasses, physical therapy
          • Personal expenses: Education expenses, entertainment/recreation expenses, vacation travel, paying off debts, pre-paying burial arrangements, personal hygiene items, purchasing an automobile, paying for registration and insurance, or purchasing clothing

          Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Accounts and Special Needs Trusts

          SSI beneficiaries who were disabled before the age of 26 can put their Retroactive benefits into an ABLE account which is a special type of account created by the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (a federal law passed in 2014).

          • Retroactive benefits put in an ABLE account don’t count as assets or resources for the purpose of SSI eligibility. For more information about ABLE accounts please see the ABLE National Resource Center’s website. In addition, Retroactive benefits put into a Program to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) to help the beneficiary return to work don’t count as a resource. Read more information about PASS plans.

          SSI beneficiaries may also put Retroactive benefits into certain types of trusts called “special needs trusts” or “pooled trusts.” See the SSI Spotlight on Trusts for more information. SSI beneficiaries will likely need an attorney’s help with setting up one of these trusts.

          Discharge of Federal Student Loans

          Individuals with federal student loans or TEACH Grant service obligations can get loan forgiveness and a waiver of the service obligations through a total and permanent disability (TPD) discharge.

          • SSI/SSDI beneficiaries qualify for the TPD discharge if their next scheduled disability review will be within 5-7 years.
          • Eligible beneficiaries should get a letter from SSA, but if they do not, they can submit a TPD discharge application and a copy of their SSA notice of award or Benefits Planning Query.
          • Further information is available on the Federal Student Aid website.



          Available Files

          SSI/SSDI Post-Entitlement Events Guide224.77 KB

          How Much Money Can I Have in the Bank on Disability Benefits?

          If you are looking into applying for disability benefits, you may have heard there is a limit on how much money you can have in the bank.

          It’s important to understand there are two types of disability benefits – SSDI and SSI. The amount of money you have only matters for one of these types.

          Do You Need to Tell Social Security About Your Assets When Receiving Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits?

          Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are benefits that are paid out to Americans who have worked a certain amount of time and fairly recently, and are now considered disabled by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This type of benefit is deducted from each worker’s paycheck while working in the form of taxes. If you become disabled later on in your lifetime, you may be able to tap into these benefits.

          To determine if you have worked long enough and recently enough to meet the requirement that the SSA sets, you will need to review your Social Security Statement. You can find this online at or contact your local Social Security Field Office for a copy of this Statement.

          If you qualify for SSD benefits, the amount of money you have in the bank is not important. That is because this is a system you have paid into while working – it is not a system based on need. Your assets are not part of the consideration when the SSA is determining whether you can receive SSDI benefits.

          Why You Have to Tell Social Security about Your Assets if You Want SSI Benefits

          Supplemental Security Income (SSI), however, is a type of benefit for those Iowans who are both disabled and show significant financial need. You do not need to have worked a certain amount of time to qualify for this type of benefit. However, you need to show that you have a financial need for these benefits.

          That means if you have any assets to your name, the SSA needs to know about them.

          The general rule is that if you have more than $2000 as a single person or $3000 as a married couple, then you will likely not be able to receive SSI benefits – even if you are disabled. These assets can include:

          • Any money in any bank accounts, including savings, or any cash you have
          • More than one vehicle to your name
          • Any property besides the house that you live in
          • “In kind” benefits like food or shelter paid for by someone else.

          Because the amount of SSI benefits you receive can vary depending on your assets, you need to report all of your assets to the SSA. If at any point you have more than $2000 in assets to your name, you need to report this to the SSA. Failure to do so is illegal.

          Determining the type of disability benefits you qualify for can be confusing. At RSH Legal, we offer a free, no-obligation case evaluation with one of our disability lawyers to discuss your claim. To schedule yours, call 1-800-433-0283 today.

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