How Do I Keep Benefits Coming Once I Win?

The most important thing you need to remember to keep your benefits is this: treatment, treatment, treatment.  The only way for you to document that you continue to have the same problems that got you disability in the first place is to keep seeing your doctors and keep doing everything they ask you to do.  If your benefits are ceased due to medical improvement then you will need this documentation to fight your cessation.  Also, make sure your doctors are continuing to document your chronic problems.  Sometimes doctors stop writing down information about a patient’s chronic health problems over time just because nothing has changed.  Ironically that can make it appear as if your condition has improved to the people reviewing your file.  Do not think that once you have your disability the fight is over.

If you decide to work at all through the “Ticket to Work” program then be very careful to comply with the requirements of that program.  You can work a little through this program even if you are receiving disability benefits, but there are strict requirements about how much you can earn and for how long.  You must comply with their reporting requirements about this to the letter.  Along the way periodically double check that your reports are received.  Too often the Social Security Administration claims to have not received reports that have been sent into them, and people wind up having huge overpayments to pay back because of it.  For this reason, keep copies of everything you have sent into the SSA about your earnings forever.  I would keep those copies in a safe deposit box; it is that important.  You might consider sending those reports in by fax so that you have a time stamp or sending them by certified mail.  And of course, never ever lie to the SSA about your earnings.  It will come back to haunt you.

Of course, the nature of any work you do while on disability could also instigate a cessation.  You should not do work that tends to undermine your credibility about the limitations you are claiming to have.  For instance, if you are getting disability because of a bad neck then even one day of dry walling could get your benefits cut off.

Sometimes people get better.  If you get better and you really can go back to work then start to prepare for that.  Working is always better than being on disability if it is possible for you.