How long Does SSI Disability or Social Security Disability last?

Social Security administers two disability programs: Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income disability (SSI). Each disability program has it own non-disability criteria, however they both use the same medical disability evaluation process. Both disability programs have no specific time limit for which an individual can receive benefits. As long as an individual meets both the medical disability requirements of SSI and SSD, and the non-disability requirements of the programs, they will continue to receive disability benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability is a need-based disability program. Like other need-based programs, individuals have income and resource limits that affect their entitlement to benefits. Social Security conducts periodic reviews to establish that SSI beneficiaries still meet the program's income and resource limits.

If it is determined that a beneficiary no longer meets the income or resource limits, their disability benefits will be stopped. If an SSI beneficiary remains ineligible for benefits for a year due to income or resource limits, SSA (the social security administration) will require a new disability claim for the person to become entitled to SSI disability benefits again.

This means the individual will have to apply again and Social Security will have to make a new medical decision and the individual will, of course, still have to meet the income and resource limits.

An important thing for SSI beneficiaries to remember is that not only is their income or resources counted toward Social Security limits, but those of their spouses as well.

Finally, the only other way an SSI beneficiary could lose their disability benefits is if they are found to have medically improved to the point that they are no longer disabled under Social Security guidelines.

In addition to periodic income and resource reviews, SSI beneficiaries receive periodic medical reviews just like Social Security Disability beneficiaries. Continuing disability reviews are used to update medical information and to determine if that medical information indicates that an individual's disabling condition has improved. Generally, there is no need to worry about these reviews because most individuals do not have any medical information that indicates that their condition has improved to the point of being no longer disabled.

Most individuals who are found to be medically improved had conditions that were expected to improve such as a fracture that did not heal in twelve months but over a period of three years had improved to the point that the individual was no longer disabled.

Unfortunately, some individuals who were approved because of cancer may be found no longer disabled if there is no evidence of cancer and the residual effects of the cancer do not meet or equal an impairment listing.

Note: This does not mean if an individual was approved based on cancer or a fracture, they will automatically be found medically improved.

In summary, there are just couple of ways an SSI beneficiary can become ineligible for disability benefits. If neither of these situations exists an individual's SSI benefits could last their lifetime.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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