How long can you receive SSI or Social Security 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.

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.

Most popular topics on

Social Security Disability in North Carolina

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Tips to Prepare for Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI

Advice to Win SSD and SSI Benefit Claims

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

Related pages:

Social Security Lawyer North Carolina
Will my disability case be reviewed after I have been approved for disability benefits?
How does the Social Security Disability Review work?
The, CDR, or Continuing Disability Review, for SSD and SSI claims
Advice for a Social Security Disability Continuing Review
What will trigger a review of a Social Security Disability claim?
Are SSDI and SSI Benefits Normally Continued After A Continuing Disability Review?
How Often Does Social Security Disability Review Cases?
Can You Lose Your Social Security Disability Benefits When Your Case Is Reviewed?
What Should I Expect at my Social Security Disability Review if I am working part-time?
How long can you receive SSI or Social Security Disability benefits?
Is there a time limit for how long you can collect Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
If Your Disability Benefits Are Stopped Can You Get Them While You Appeal?
What is a Social Security Disability or SSI work CDR?
How hard is it to qualify for disability?
Qualifying for disability in California
How do I apply for disability in Benefits in California
Applying for Disability in California