social security benefitsApplying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a complex and lengthy process. For many applicants, it can take months – or even years – to get approved for benefits. So, if you had SSDI benefits that stopped because you went back to work, but your health once again prevents employment, the idea of starting over from square one can be devastating. Fortunately, that may not be necessary.

The Social Security Administration's (SSA) Expedited Reinstatement (EXR) program allows previously approved beneficiaries to have their benefits restarted without completing another application in some circumstances. Here's what you need to know about EXR, including how Keefe Disability Law's seasoned Boston-based disability attorneys can help you fight for the reinstatement of the SSDI benefits you need and deserve.

Working While Receiving SSDI

Though the SSA generally defines disability as a long-term medical condition that prevents employment, or as the SSA calls it, “substantial gainful activity,” the Administration encourages beneficiaries to work if their disability allows. As an SSDI beneficiary, you can even engage in a trial work period of up to nine months (in a 60-month or five-year period) while continuing to receive benefits. After that, you may have an extended period of eligibility of 36 months during which you may collect SSDI benefits for any months you weren't engaged in substantial gainful activity. (The SSA periodically updates its definition of what qualifies as substantial gainful activity. In 2022, this amount was $1,350 for most SSDI recipients and $2,260 for statutorily blind beneficiaries.) However, if your earnings indicate substantial gainful activity after your trial work period and extended eligibility ends, your benefits will stop.

Restarting SSDI Benefits 

If you're an SSDI recipient who went back to work and had their benefits stop due to substantial gainful activity, the EXR program lets you request the reinstatement of your benefits without having to complete a second application and collect provisional benefits for up to six months while the SSA determines if you qualify. These benefits usually do not have to be paid back, even if the SSA ultimately denies your request. Unfortunately, not all former SSDI beneficiaries are eligible for reinstatement under EXR.

You may be eligible for expedited reinstatement if:

  • Your SSDI benefits ended within the past five years
  • You stopped receiving SSDI benefits because your earnings from work exceeded the relevant cap for substantial gainful activity 
  • Your health once again prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity 
  • The disability that prevents you from working in the same condition for which you were initially awarded benefits or is one that is closely related 

Applying for EXR

Applying for expedited reinstatement of your SSDI benefits requires completing Form SSA-371 and submitting it to the SSA, along with paperwork documenting your work history and disabling medical condition. Working with a knowledgeable and experienced Social Security disability lawyer can help this process go as smoothly as possible by preventing avoidable errors in your paperwork and ensuring that the medical documentation you submit accurately conveys your impairments. Having skilled legal representation is particularly important if you're requesting expedited reinstatement towards the end of the five-year period after your benefits stopped or if the condition that prevents substantial gainful activity is related to the one for which benefits were originally awarded, as you'll have to provide medical evidence to show how the two conditions are linked.

Talk With a Skilled Massachusetts Social Security Disability Attorney 

Were you previously approved for SSDI benefits that stopped after you went back to work? If your condition has worsened and you can no longer work – or your earnings have fallen below what the SSA considers substantial gainful activity, the caring and capable attorneys with Keefe Disability Law can help you explore your eligibility for expedited reinstatement and apply for EXR. Ready to find out what we can do for you? Contact us online or call 508-283-5500 (or toll-free at 888-904-6847) to schedule a complimentary consultation. For more information on the SSDI claims process, browse our FAQs.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 888.904.6847 to schedule your free consultation.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer
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