A cessation case for Social Security Disability is a case in which an individual has previously been determined to be disabled but a recent review of the individual’s medical records demonstrate a level of improvement that show the individual may no longer be disabled. The big difference, though, between a cessation case and an initial application for Social Security Disability benefits is that, unlike the initial application, in a cessation case the burden of proof is on the Social Security Administration to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that you are no longer disabled. This may not seem like a big deal but in any legal case the side that has the burden of proof is at a distinct disadvantage and this is the one scenario where the individual has an advantage over the Social Security Administration.
In spite of this advantage, cessation cases can be very tricky for disability recipients. First, the most common instances where we see cessation cases are with individuals who were found to be disabled due to mental health reasons. Often times in these cases, they are the easiest cases to show that someone has improved significantly from a medical standpoint. What we often see is an individual who was once treating with a psychiatrist weekly reduce their visits to monthly or even bi-monthly. If fact, in some instances, we see the individual stop treating altogether or are managed primarily with medication and are deemed stable. It is fairly easy in these circumstances for the Social Security Administration to move to stop an individual from continuing to receive disability benefits.
The other problem with cessation cases is that it can be fairly difficult to find an attorney to represent you in this circumstance. Attorney’s fees are normally paid from back benefits in Social Security Disability cases. However, in a cessation case there are no back benefits so the attorney would have to be paid up front for representation and this can often be hard for an individual who has been living on disability benefits for a significant period of time. The other issue with cessation cases is that if the individual loses the case and has chosen to continue to receive benefits after they received the notice of intent to stop benefits and while their case and subsequent appeals are pending, that individual will owe a large sum of money to the Social Security Administration should they lose their case.
Cessation cases should be reviewed with great care to determine the best course of action and every case will be different. In some instances, it may be the better decision to not fight it and try to look for work if your medical condition has, in fact, improved. However, if you are continuing to suffer from a sever medical impairment and are unable to work in spite of what might be slight improvement, look very carefully at contesting the Social Security Administration’s decision to attempt to stop your disability benefits.