Expedited reinstatement (EXR) is a Social Security provision designed to provide a financial safety net for people who go off disability benefits because they’ve returned to work. With EXR, former beneficiaries may be able to quickly restart disability payments if their medical condition forces them to stop or severely curtail work activity again.
EXR is one of a number of work incentives Social Security offers to help those on disability enter or return to the labor force. Unlike many of those programs, it is available to recipients of both Social Security–administered benefits for people with disabilities: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
You can ask for EXR if, within five years of your benefits ending, your work income drops below caps Social Security sets for active beneficiaries. If the request is granted, you won’t have to file a new benefit application, and you may be able to receive payments again immediately.
Who can get EXR?
Because Social Security largely defines disability as a medical condition that prevents you from working, it sets strict limits on how much you can earn from a job or self-employment and still collect disability benefits.
To receive SSDI, your work income cannot exceed a level Social Security considers “substantial gainful activity,” or SGA. For 2023, the cap is $1,470 per month, or $2,460 per month if you are statutorily blind.
SSI has more complicated income rules, involving numerous exceptions and taking into account money from nonwork sources such as investment returns or government benefits. The bottom line in 2023 is that you will lose SSI if you have earnings only from work and they exceed $1,913 a month. (There may be different limits if you have both work and nonwork income.)
To be eligible for expedited reinstatement, you must meet all these criteria:
- You lost your SSDI or SSI within the previous five years because your earnings exceeded the relevant program’s cap.
- You are again unable to do work sufficient to exceed the SGA limit, due to a condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability.
- The disability preventing you from working is the same one for which you were initially awarded benefits or is a closely related condition.
How to reinstate disability benefits
To request expedited reinstatement, you must fill out a package of forms that vary depending on your circumstances. Forms SSA-371 and SSA-372 are applications to reinstate SSDI and SSI benefits, respectively. You may also need to submit paperwork detailing your work history and medical condition, among other documentation.