Getting Your Disability Benefits Back Without Reapplying: Expedited Reinstatement

If you lost your disability benefits after trying to go back to work, Social Security will replace your benefits if you again find yourself unable to work.

If your Social Security or SSI disability benefits were terminated because you started to work and earned too much money, you may eligible for "expedited reinstatement" if you stop making too much money. Expedited reinstatement (EXR) allows you to get your benefits restarted without having to reapply for benefits. If you qualify for EXR, you can get your benefits back must sooner than if you had to reapply.

Expedited Reinstatement of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

If you started working and earning above the substantial gainful activity level when you were receiving Social Security disability insurance (SSDI), and you continued working after your nine months of trial work period, Social Security terminated your payments. If your earnings fall below the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level again within five years of when your SSDI benefits were stopped, you can get your benefits restarted without reapplying through expedited reinstatement. In 2021, the SGA level is $1,310 (or $2,190 for blind people).

To qualify for expedited reinstatement, you must have stopped working (or stopped working as much) because of the same disability for which you originally received SSDI benefits (or in some cases, a closely related disability). Also, your medical condition must not be better than when you originally applied for SSDI.

Expedited Reinstatement of SSI

If you lost benefits because you started working while collecting SSI and your income went above the SSI income limit, your SSI payments stopped. If your income dips below the SSI income limit again within five years of when your SSI stopped, because you stop working, or stop working as much, due to your medical condition, you can get your benefits restarted without reapplying. If you meet all of the following criteria, you may have your benefits restarted without having to apply again. To qualify, all of the following must be true:

  • Your benefits stopped because your earnings from work put you above the SSI income limit.
  • You must still be considered disabled and unable to work at or above the SGA level.
  • Your current disability is the same as or is related to your original disabling condition.
  • You meet the SSI asset and income limits.
  • Your disability must not have improved, as it related to your ability to work, since your original SSI application.

Waiting for a Decision on Expedited Reinstatement

When you apply for expedited reinstatement of your benefits, your application has to go to Disability Determination Services (DDS), which can take a while. Fortunately, Social Security will pay you benefits for up to six months while you are waiting for an answer on your EXR. Even if your application for expedited reinstatement is denied, you get to keep the benefits Social Security paid you while your application was pending. In addition, while you wait for a decision, you'll be covered by Medicare (for SSDI recipients) or Medicaid (for SSI recipients). If your request is denied, your Medicare or Medicaid will stop.

Appealing an Expedited Reinstatement Denial

If your request for expedited reinstatement is denied, you have 60 days from the date you receive your denial letter to file a Request for Reconsideration. DDS will reconsider your application to see if it made a mistake.

If your Request for Reconsideration is denied, you have sixty days to request for a hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ). This appeal process is very similar to the appeal process for initial disability applications. See Nolo's section on Social Security disability appeals for more information.

Updated January 13, 2021

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