Can You Get Disability Benefits While You Appeal If Your Benefits Were Ceased?

If you appeal a cessation of Social Security Disability benefits, you may be able to receive continuing benefits while your case is under appeal.

By , Attorney · University of North Carolina School of Law
Updated by Diana Chaikin, Attorney · Seattle University School of Law
Updated 3/16/2023

When disability applicants are approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, they can generally expect to receive their monthly payment without interruption until they hit retirement age. But because Social Security conducts periodic reviews of everybody receiving benefits—known as continuing disability reviews—your benefits might cease if the agency isn't sure that you still qualify for disability.

Disability benefits can be stopped because your medical condition improved, you returned to work, or you had a change in your financial resources. You have the right to appeal the decision of the Social Security Administration (SSA) to end your benefits, and you can continue to receive SSDI or SSI while you appeal the cessation of benefits.

SSA Form 795, Benefit Continuation Election Statement

In order to keep receiving your SSDI or SSI benefits while you wait for Social Security's decision, you'll need to submit a written request for benefit continuation with your appeal. You can use SSA Form 795, Benefit Continuation Election Statement, for this purpose. (Confusingly, the SSA has another Form 795, "Statement of Claimant or Other Person," which is used to help determine whether somebody is disabled. Don't use it to appeal your cessation of benefits.)

You can't get the SSA 795 Benefit Continuation Election online, so you'll have to request it from your local SSA field office. Review the form carefully when you receive it. The form contains important information about your rights and responsibilities while waiting on your decision, including the following:

  • If you lose your appeal, you'll have to repay the money the SSA paid to you after they determined that your eligibility for benefits ended.
  • You can ask the SSA to not have to pay the money back if you needed it for "ordinary and necessary living expenses."
  • You don't have to repay any Medicare benefits you received.
  • You agree to let the SSA know if you started working or if you have a change in any dependents ("auxiliary beneficiaries") who rely on your income.
  • You can only elect benefit continuation at specific time periods during the cessation appeals process.
  • If you win your appeal, the SSA will pay you any amount you're owed.

At the bottom of the form is a checkbox with several options for you to let the SSA know which, if any, benefits you want continued. You can mark an X next to the type of benefit you choose to have continued.

I want my benefits continued for me and everyone receiving benefits on my Social Security record.
I want only my benefits continued.
I want benefits continued for myself and the following eligible individuals: (specify)
I do not want any benefits continued.
I want Medicare coverage for myself and anyone else who qualifies on my Social Security record, but I don't want cash payments. (Note that you'll be billed directly for the cost of the Medicare coverage, which ends if you stop making payments.)
I want both Part A and Part B Medicare coverage continued.
I want only Part A Medicare coverage continued.

You then sign and date the election form and return it with the rest of your cessation appeal forms. If you're electing to continue benefits for your dependents, Social Security lets them know that they have a right to receive continuing benefits on your record, and asks them to make their own election.

Submit SSA 795 With Your Appeal of a Cessation of Disability Benefits

You'll need to stick to a strict timeline when requesting that your disability benefits continue. The process of appealing a cessation of benefits is similar to the process the SSA originally used to determine whether you were disabled in the first place, but if you're asking for your benefits to continue, the deadlines are much tighter.

File a Request for Reconsideration Within 10 Days to Continue Benefits

After you've received an initial cessation notice, you only have 10 days to file a request for reconsideration (along with your Benefit Continuation Election SSA-795 form). Social Security allows 5 days for mail, so, in practice, you have 15 days after the date of the cessation notice to submit your appeal forms.

Still, this time limit is much shorter than the usual 60 days the SSA allows to file an appeal. Make sure that you keep this deadline in mind because, if you miss it, you won't get another chance to continue benefits until you get a reconsideration decision, which can take several months. Social Security will deny your request for continuing benefits if you submit the form after the 10-day deadline, unless you have a good reason why you filed late.

Filing a Request for Hearing Gets You Another 10 Days to Continue Benefits

If your request for reconsideration is denied, you can file a request for hearing (and another request for continuing benefits) within 10 days after you receive your notice of denial. Social Security lets you submit SSA-795 with your hearing request to elect benefit continuation even if you didn't elect to continue the benefits at the reconsideration stage.

Note that, if your benefits were stopped because of medical improvement, you don't have to wait to see an administrative law judge to get a face-to-face hearing. A disability hearing officer can review your file at the reconsideration stage, and you can show up in person to make the case that your health hasn't improved to the point where you could return to work.

Appealing After a Denial at the Hearing Level

You won't continue to receive disability benefits if you're appealing an unfavorable hearing decision to the Appeals Council. However, if the Appeals Council sends back ("remands") your case to the judge for a new hearing and you elected to continue benefits at the hearing level, the SSA will reinstate your benefits automatically—you don't have to do anything.

If you didn't make a continuing benefits election at the hearing level and your case is remanded from the Appeals Council, you'll have another opportunity to elect or decline benefit continuation by filing Form SSA-795.

If I Don't Elect to Continue My Benefits, When Will They End?

Generally, if you don't elect for your benefits to continue, you'll stop receiving them two months after the month the cessation notice is mailed to you.

But, if you've been uncooperative with Social Security or have neglected your own medical treatment—by failing to attend a medical exam or not following your doctor's orders—the SSA can suspend your benefits in the same month you receive notice of cessation. (Even in these cases, you still have 10 days to make a continuing benefit election.)

My Appeal Was Denied; Do I Need to Repay the Benefits?

Yes, but you only need to pay back the cash benefits you received while your appeal was being decided—you won't have to pay back the value of any Medicare or Medicaid benefits you received. However, you can ask the SSA to waive the cash overpayment as long as you appealed the cessation "in good faith."

Most appeals are presumed to be made in good faith, so unless you're actively withholding information from the SSA that would hurt your appeal—like earning above the substantial gainful activity level after your trial work period ended—it's unlikely that you'll have to repay the benefits.

Learn more about what can cause your disability to stop and how to appeal your disability termination.

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