How to Avoid Losing Social Security Rights


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There are certain events that will trigger the termination or reduction of your social security file and suspend its Benefits.  Some of these events like death are unavoidable others may be avoidable.

Events that Can Trigger Loss of Benefits

The following is a partial listing of events that will terminate your social security filing for benefits:

  • Incarceration for more than 30 continuous days
  • If you leave the United States for more than six months
  • Deportation
  • Remarriage
  • Conviction of certain crimes, such as treason and espionage
  • If the recipient refuses to accept rehabilitation efforts
  • Substantial gainful activity

How Do You Avoid Losing Social Security Rights?

In matters, relating to criminal activity your best defense is to avoid the criminal activity.  If you are planning an extended stay out of the country, you should consider limiting it to six months or less.  If you lose your benefits because you remarry, you can not get a social security card replacement if the marriage does not work out.  You can only get benefits as a divorced spouse if the marriage lasts 10 years or more.  If you are disabled, there are circumstances where you can earn income and continue to receive social security for disability.  You can earn a certain amount of money each month without triggering a determination that you are engaged in substantial gainful activity.  This amount changes every year. If you are offered a rehabilitation program, do not hesitate to participate.  You continue to get your benefits while participating in these programs and in some instances can continue to receive Medicare if you return to full-time employment.  If the nature of your disability is one that Social Security would be re-evaluating your filing for disability, an unsuccessful attempt at rehabilitation is evidence that you should continue to receive benefits.

Getting Help from a Social Security Attorney

Social Security will notify you in writing before terminating your benefits.  Consult a competent social security attorney if you are receiving benefits as a widow(er) or divorced spouse and you are considering remarriage.  This person can also assist you with any appeal if you have received a notice of termination of benefits for any reason.

Summary: Pre-Planning to Protect Social Security Benefits

Certain events will trigger the termination of Social Security Benefits.  Some of these can be avoided by pre-planning and being aware of the situations that would cause the termination of benefits.  Seek competent legal counsel and be sure to know your rights.  Social Security must notify you before they terminate your benefits and you have the right to appeal.

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