How long do disability benefits last?

How long will my disability benefits last after I am approved?

Disability benefits may last indefinitely for both SSDI and SSI. This does not mean disability is always a permanent thing as there are events that could end eligibility for disability benefits.

For both SSI and SSDI, Social Security sets a medical review date known as a diary. Most disability claims are set for review every three years, unless the disabling condition involved is unlikely to medically improve. If you have what Social Security considers a permanent disabling condition, your disability claim will likely receive a 7 year diary.

If you are receiving SSDI, there are two things that could lead to your being found not disabled. If you start working and earning over SGA, it could trigger a medical review that would lead to a finding of not disabled. At the very least, work activity could cause your disability benefits to be suspended or even terminated. Even if you are not working, a medical review could find that your medical evidence supports medical improvement and that could lead to your becoming ineligible for disability benefits.

If you are receiving SSI disability, work generally does not cause your disability eligibility to be terminated unless you are out of pay for a year. However, this does not mean that work might not show medical improvement, in which case, your SSI could be medically ceased.

The SSI program is a need based disability program, so there are other non-medical factors that lead to termination. If you have too much income or resources at any point during your disability entitlement it could lead to termination.

In summary, there is no limit to length of time you can receive disability benefits, however there are situations that may lead to disability termination.

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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