The simple answer to this question is that Social Security Disability and SSI are not short-term disability programs and, thus, do not provide temporary benefits.
That said, there are instances in which a person is not awarded ongoing disability benefits but is awarded disability for a specific period of time in the past during which they did meet the qualifications for disability. These are not referred to as temporary benefits. Instead, this is known as a closed period but it can only be awarded by an administrative law judge at a Social Security hearing.
How do you get ongoing disability?
When your claim is evaluated, to be approved it must be shown that your condition is severe and long-lasting. How severe and how long-lasting? To qualify, Social Security requires that you have to have been unable to earn a substantially gainful income, or that you expect to be unable to do this for twelve months, due to a mental or medical condition. So, the condition must be considered to last a full year in order for you to become eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI.
How long is the process?
How long does it take to get disability? The disability application itself will usually take between one and six months, with most claims being decided in 3-4 months. If your disability claim is denied at the initial application level (first filing), then you will have to appeal the decision. The disability appeals process takes a considerable amount of time, but reconsideration appeals are usually quicker, with most of these appeals being decided between 1-3 month, and some within 30 days.
Social Security Hearings, unfortunately, take much longer simply because getting a hearing date can take over a year in most states. However, hearings can represent a much higher chance of being approved. At a hearing, a claimant can, with their attorney, or alone, present an argument for approval and provide updated medical evidence, often including statements from physicians.
Can you go back to work after getting a disability award?
If you have been awarded Social Security Disability benefits, there is nothing in the Social Security regulations that would prevent a disability beneficiary from receiving disability benefits because of a medical or mental condition, and at some point returning to work. In fact, Social Security offers many incentives to encourage disability recipients to return to work.
For instance, there is a nine-month trial work period (these months do not have to be consecutive) in any sixty month period of time, in which disability beneficiaries may return to work without their monthly earnings amount affecting their monthly Social Security benefit.
If the beneficiary is still working at an amount above the SGA (this is known as substantial gainful activity and represents a monetary income amount above which an individual will not qualify to receive disability benefits — this amount changes annually) limit for that year, then in the tenth month following the nine month trial work period, their Social Security benefit may be suspended.
However, if the disability beneficiary has to stop work at any time during the following thirty-six months (the thirty six month period is known as the extended period of eligibility) due to your medical condition, their benefit will be reinstated immediately.
Finally, even if you have managed to work past the extended period of eligibility, you may qualify to file an expedited reinstatement (without the need for a new disability application) at anytime during the five year period following the month your disability benefit was terminated due to work activity.
If you file an expedited reinstatement you will begin to receive your disability benefit again, however the monthly payments are provisional (upon your medical conditions still being disabling according to Social Security regulations) and will end in six months.
If the state disability agency responsible for Social Security medical determinations has not made a decision in six months, or you are medically denied for the reinstatement of a disability entitlement, provisional payments will stop. As you can see, Social Security or SSI disability is not meant to be a short-term disability program and does not provide temporary benefits, however there may be situations in which an individual may actually only need to receive disability benefits for a short time.