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What causes suspension of SSI benefits?

We have discussed the eligibility requirements for Supplemental Security Income several times in this space. In general, SSI exists to help blind or disabled people who have very limited financial means. Usually, these individuals have not logged enough employment hours to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance. But once one is approved for SSI benefits, they are not guaranteed to continue forever. In fact, there are a few ways that people stop receiving SSI benefits.

The Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General is the arm of the agency that is tasked with ensuring that the programs administered by it are run as efficiently and economically as possible. The OIG conducts audits, investigates allegations of fraud and has many other responsibilities. As part of its mission the Inspector General periodically releases statistical information regarding various parts of the programs it oversees. One of these reports recently looked at the reasons people have their SSI benefits suspended.

The OIG's report covers the period from 2004 to 2013, and breaks the suspension of SSI benefits into four categories. Excess income is by far the leading cause of SSI suspensions during this period, hovering between 600,000 and 700,000 people each year. The second highest cause, though occurring in many fewer cases, is 'whereabouts unknown.' This means that the agency has lost track of these beneficiaries, and has suspended their payments. Somewhat troublingly, this cause of suspensions has trended upward over the last decade. The final two categories, each accounting for fewer than 100,000 suspensions a year are people who have made a medical recovery so as to no longer qualify for SSI, or who have excess resources (i.e. available funds not considered 'income').

This should point out the importance of a couple things for SSI recipients. One is that you need to keep all your information with the SSA up to date. You don't want to lose your benefits because you can't be found. Secondly, you should weigh whether any extra income is going to outweigh the possible suspension of your benefits. This is not an easy task, and anyone with questions about continuing eligibility for SSI may wish to consider speaking with an experienced New Jersey disability attorney.

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