Expedited Reinstatement After Your Disability Benefits Were Terminated

If you stop working within five years of when your disability benefits stopped, you might be able to get your benefits restarted without reapplying.

By , J.D. · University of Baltimore School of Law
Updated by Bethany K. Laurence, Attorney · UC Law San Francisco

If you work and earn too much money, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will stop paying your disability benefits. If your impairment later forces you to stop working again, you might be able to get your benefits restarted quickly—without having to reapply. This process is called "expedited reinstatement" (EXR).

When Will Social Security Stop Your Disability Benefits?

When you first applied for disability, you had to prove that your impairment prevented you from working at or above the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level. (For 2024, SGA is defined as earning $1,550 or more per month from working.) You'll eventually lose Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) if you start working above the SGA level again.

The earning limit is different for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits. Once you begin receiving SSI, you can work above the SGA level without losing benefits, but part of your income will be deducted from your SSI payment. And if your income goes over the SSI limit for your state, your benefits will stop right away.

How Expedited Reinstatement of Disability Benefits Works

Expedited reinstatement (EXR) lets you restart your disability benefits without having to file a new application. Expedited reinstatement can get your SSDI or SSI benefits restarted much faster than if you had to start the disability application process over again.

You apply for expedited reinstatement by filing Form 371 to reinstate SSDI or Form 372 to reinstate SSI. Social Security will then request additional paperwork about your medical conditions and your work activity. You can also call the SSA at 800-772-1213 to get the EXR request started.

If your request for expedited reinstatement is approved, your benefits will restart the month after you filed your EXR request. So, if you filed your EXR request in June, your benefits would begin in July.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Answer on Expedited Reinstatement?

It can take several months for Social Security to process an expedited reinstatement request. Fortunately, if your benefits are reinstated, you'll receive retroactive pay for the time you waited—up to 12 months of expedited reinstatement back pay benefits dating back to when you filed your EXR request.

When Your SSDI Benefits Will Be Reinstated

If you're receiving SSDI and you start working at the SGA level, Social Security will give you a trial work period for nine months. But if you continue working at the SGA level ($1,550 per month) after your trial work period ends, Social Security assumes you're no longer disabled and stops sending your benefit payments.

If your earnings fall below the SGA level again within five years, you can ask Social Security to restart your benefits by applying for expedited reinstatement. If you wait longer than five years after your benefits are stopped because of your earnings, you'll have to file a brand new application to get SSDI again.

When Your SSI Benefits Will Be Reinstated

If you're receiving SSI and your countable income rises above the SSI income limit, Social Security will terminate your benefits immediately.

If your income again falls below the limit within five years, you can get your benefits restarted by applying for expedited reinstatement. Your income has to be below the SGA limit ($1,550 per month) to qualify for expedited reinstatement of SSI benefits.

Again, if you wait longer than five years after Social Security stops paying your benefits, you'll have to go through the whole SSI disability application process once more.

Are You Eligible for Expedited Reinstatement?

To take advantage of expedited reinstatement, you must have:

  • stopped getting SSDI payments because you made too much money from work or stopped getting SSI benefits because your income rose above the income limit
  • requested the EXR within five years (60 months) of when your benefits ended
  • stopped working at the SGA level because of the same medical condition for which you were originally receiving benefits (or something related to it), and
  • not experienced a "medical improvement" in your condition since the last time Social Security determined you qualified as disabled.

When you apply for expedited reinstatement, your application will be sent to your local disability determination services (DDS) agency. DDS is the state agency that reviews Social Security claims to see if the applicant meets Social Security's definition of disabled. This time, DDS will look at your medical records to see if you've experienced medical improvement since your initial application (or your last continuing disability review).

Medical improvement means the disabling condition that qualified you for disability benefits is no longer as severe as it was, as it relates to your ability to work, so that you can now perform SGA. (20 C.F.R. § 404.1594(b)(1).) This standard is often difficult for Social Security to prove, which might make it easier for you to get your EXR request granted.

Learn more about Social Security's medical improvement standard.

How Can I Get Provisional Payments?

Social Security will pay you provisional benefits (cash payments) while you wait for your request for expedited reinstatement to be approved—for up to six months. Your provisional benefits will begin the month after you apply for expedited reinstatement. The provisional payments will stop before the end of the six months if:

  • you receive a decision about your EXR request
  • you earn more than the SGA limit, or
  • you reach your full retirement age.

You shouldn't have to request provisional payments. After you apply for EXR, if a Social Security representative or examiner believes you'll be eligible for expedited reinstatement, your provisional payments will be started.

What if Your Request for Reinstatement or Provisional Payments Is Denied?

Even if your expedited reinstatement request is denied, you usually won't have to repay the provisional benefits.

If Social Security denies you provisional benefits while you await an EXR decision, you can't officially appeal the denial. But you should advise the DDS that you disagree with the decision and ask that it be reviewed. Social Security will accept any new information you submit and review the decision to make sure it's correct.

How Much Are Provisional Benefits?

Your monthly provisional benefit amount is typically the same as your last SSI or SSDI payment before the benefits were stopped, plus annual cost of living adjustments since you last received disability benefits. (20 C.F.R. § 404.1592e(2).)

But provisional benefits don't include the amount of any state SSI supplement you were receiving before your benefits ended. Your provisional benefit amount might also be modified to reflect any previous overpayments or underpayments.

Can You Get Medicare or Medicaid Reinstated?

During the provisional benefit period, you can also get health care coverage, depending on the type of disability you're requesting Social Security to extend:

  • For SSI, it's Medicaid.
  • For SSDI, it's Medicare.

If your expedited reinstatement request is denied, both your provisional payments and medical coverage will stop.

Expedited Reinstatement of Dependent Benefits

If any of your family members were getting benefits based on your earnings record and those benefits stopped because of your work activity, their benefits will also be reinstated if Social Security approves your EXR request. The dependent benefits that can be reinstated this way include:

  • spouse's benefits
  • divorced spouse's benefits
  • disabled child benefits, and
  • dependent parent's benefits.

But Social Security doesn't automatically begin paying these benefits again after your payments are reinstated. The spouse, child, parent, or appropriate guardian must request they be restarted.

Appealing a Denial of Expedited Reinstatement

If Social Security denies your expedited reinstatement request, you have the right to appeal that decision. The appeals process for a denial of expedited reinstatement is similar to the appeals process for initial applications. You'll have 60 days from the date you receive your EXR denial letter to file a Request for Reconsideration.

If your Request for Reconsideration for the expedited reinstatement of benefits is denied, you can ask for an EXR hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). You'll have 60 days to make this request as well. If you disagree with the ALJ's decision, you can request an Appeals Council review of the denial.

Although it's not required, you can hire an attorney to help with your EXR appeal. Having an experienced lawyer at your ALJ hearing can improve your odds, if you can find one to take your case. Learn more about how a disability lawyer can help with your appeal.

Updated March 26, 2024

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