Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

Is there a time limit for how long you can collect Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

There is no time limit for collecting social security disability or SSI disability benefits. This is largely due to the way that the social security administration views disability benefits.

When you are approved to receive monthly benefits, it is only after an extensive review of both your medical records and work history has been conducted. And whether your approval was granted by a disability judge at a hearing office, or by a disability examiner who handled your case at the disability application level (or reconsideration appeal level), the process for determining your benefits was the same. That process really boils down to the conclusion that--

A) You cannot work and earn a substantial gainful living, either by doing your past work, or by attempting to do some type of other work


B) That your condition is both totally disabling and potentially permanently disabling.

What do we mean by "potentially permanently disabling"? Simply that social security views all approved claims as situations in which a person may always be disabled and unable to work. Nonetheless, social security also holds open the possibility that a claimant's condition may undergo medical improvement to the point that they can re-enter the workforce and earn a living, even if they are held to be fully disabled.

Medical improvement can only be verified through medical records and this is why all approved disability claims are scheduled to be reviewed at certain intervals.

Some cases will be reviewed each year, and some will be reviewed no sooner than every seven years. For the most part, though, the majority of cases will undergo a CDR, or continuing disability review, every three years (note: many cases that are "diaried" for three year reviews are often not actually reviewed until the fourth or fifth year, due to heavy workloads in social security field offices).

However, regardless of when a claimant's continuing disability review occurs, the fact remains that the vast majority of claims are continued (i.e. "re-approved") upon review, which simply means that very individuals ever have their disability benefits stopped due to the conclusion that they were no longer disabled.

As we said, whether or not social security can take someone off benefits at the time of their review hinges upon "medical improvement". Medical improvement is very difficult to prove on a disability case. And it is especially difficult for the social security adminisration to prove if the claimant received their disability approval from an administrative law judge at a disability hearing.

Disability judges tend to be more balanced in their decision-making, whereas disability examiners must report to unit supervisors who attempt to keep down the number of approvals (due to a culture of denial that exists in most DDS agencies).

Yet disability examiners, who make the decisions on continuing disability reviews (CDRs), must abide by what was set in place by a judge if the claimant's previous approval was made by a judge.

In short, there is no time limit for how long a person can collect disability benefits. And if a person is approved to receive disability benefits, the chances are good that they will continue to receive them for the remainder of their lifetime, unless they attempt to go back to work.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
How long does it take to get a decision on Social Security disability or SSI?
How Long Does It Take To Get Disability Benefits When You First File?
How long will it take to start getting disability benefits after you have received an award notice?
How Long Can You Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?
How long does it take to appeal a disability case?
How long does it take for the disability decision in North Carolina?
How long does it take to receive North Carolina disability benefits after you are approved?
How Long Will It Take For A Decision Letter For Social Security Disability?
Trying to get disability with meniere's, degenerative disc, ankylosing spondylitis, depression, and anxiety
SSI Back Pay after being Approved
Getting a good disability lawyer
Social Security Disability listings and medical exams

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