Many people who go onto Social Security disability end up returning to work. That is a good thing as it is always better to work than not to work if possible. One issue that can cause the disabled to not return to work is worry over getting back on Social Security disability. Recalling how it took
years and hiring a lawyer to get approved the first time suggests to a lot of disabled workers that they should simply stay on disability. Others will return to work and simply not tell Social Security out of fear of losing their benefits and having to reapply.
The EXR Files
Social Security has a program called Expedited Reinstatement, or EXR. This is designed to address a situation where a disabled person returns to work only to discover that she cannot work full time. Under EXR, that disabled worker can apply to get her disability benefits restarted without a new application. As always, the rules are more complicated than they need to be. But, the basics are as follows:
- You lost your disability benefits within the previous five years because your earnings exceeded the relevant program's cap.
- You are again unable to do work sufficient to exceed the SGA limit, due to a condition that meets Social Security's definition of disability.
- The disability preventing you from working is the same one for which you were initially awarded benefits or is a closely related condition.
Social Security could take forever to process your EXR. But, you may be eligible for up to six months of interim benefits. Generally speaking, you shouldn't have to pay these interim benefits back even if Social Security denies your EXR.
Beware The Details
One important detail to bear in mind. EXR is only available if you lost your disability benefits because of earnings. This is different than losing those
benefits because your disabling condition improved, and you got well enough to work again. In addition, if you had high earnings during the time you returned to work, your monthly benefit could be higher with a new application than with EXR.
If you have questions about this or anything else, please let me know. You can read more about EXR here.