SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
Social Security Disability and SSI Questions and Answers
What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How much does a Social Security disability attorney get paid?
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
More questions about SSD and SSI
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability Tips — how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
How long can you receive SSI or Social Security disability benefits ?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
Getting approved for SSD or SSI disability benefits can take as little as a few months for those individual's who are fortunate enough to be approved at the initial claim or reconsideration appeal level. An approval can also take as long as two to three years for someone who is denied at both those levels and, therefore, is required to file a request for a hearing.
Following an approval, however, how long can a person receive disability benefits? The answer is indefinitely, depending on certain factors. The factors that affect an individual's entitlement to a monthly Social Security disability benefit or SSI benefit, are work activity, or indications of medical improvement.
Disability Reviews, Medical Improvement, and Continuing Eligibility to Receive Benefits
Periodically your disability claim will be reviewed to determine if your medical conditions have improved. If they have not improved and no other changes have occurred, you will receive a medical continuance (you will continue to receive disability monthly benefits).
Is it likely that the social security administation will determine that you have experienced medical improvement and, as a result, cease your benefits? No. In fact, only a very small percentage of claims are discontinued due to medical improvement. The vast majority of claims are continued, or re-approved, following each periodic review.
This is because medical improvement is actually hard to prove, essentially for the same reason that it can be difficult to be awarded disability benefits in the first place: doctors simply do not make a habit of including information about a patient's functional limitations or capabilities in the medical records that they transcribe.
Disability Reviews, Work Activity, and Continuing Eligibility to Receive Benefits
Work activity will be reviewed at the time of your scheduled medical disability review (these usually occur every three or seven years), or during any other time at which the Social Security Administration has questions about your work earnings.
How does SSA become aware of your earnings? Claimants are required to report any work activity that they engage in. However, in addition to work activity that you have reported to the Social Security Administration, a review of a claimant's work activity may be the result of arnings that have been reported to your social security record by the Internal Revenue Service
If you are never able to return to work due to your medical conditions or Social Security has never determined that your conditions have improved, you will receive your disability benefits until your full retirement age.
Once you are at full retirement age, your monthly disability benefit will automatically convert to a Social Security retirement benefit. Your benefits will become subject to retirement rules not disability rules, which may mean that you will have different earnings restrictions. Please contact your local Social Security office to obtain information about retirement benefits.
Return to: SSDRC, or the Social Security Disability Questions page