Social Security Disability Resource Center

Overview | How to Qualify | Applications
Requirements | How long it takes | Back Pay
Mental Disability | What is a disability? | Tips
SSI Benefits | How to Win | Disability Awards
Hearings | Appeals | List of Disabling Conditions

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.

  • What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

  • What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

  • Which conditions will social security recognize as a disability?

  • Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    The SSDRC Disability Blog

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    Getting disability in North Carolina

    Related pages:

    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

    Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

    Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

    These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

    Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
    How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
    Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
    What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
    How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
    How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
    Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
    Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria