Sunday, January 18, 2009

How Long Can a Person Receive Social Security Disability?

Once an individual is found medically disabled under the rules and guidelines of the Social Security disability program, they may receive disability benefits until they turn full retirement age. At that point, their Social Security disability benefit will automatically convert to a retirement benefit. However, there are situations that may cause an individual’s ability to receive Social Security disability to be suspended or even terminated prior to their full retirement age.

For instance, individuals who receive a Social Security disability benefit or a Supplemental Security disability benefit will be reviewed every three to seven years. These disability evaluations, known as a continuing disability review (CDR), allow the Social Security Administration to update Social Security beneficiaries’ medical and work information, in an effort to ascertain if an individual’s medical condition has improved.

Yes, work activity may be an indicator of an individual’s medical improvement. In fact, some individual’s work activity may even trigger a medical review prior to the medical re-exam date. Generally, someone must report an individual’s work activity or the work activity is so significant it appears that the individual has been performing work at a level that may be considered substantial gainful activity (SGA).

Remember, Social Security disability is based upon an individual’s functional capacity being so severely restricted as to prevent any substantial gainful work activity.

Even if an individual has performed no substantial work activity, they may still be terminated medically. There are times during an individual’s continuing medical review that medical notes indicate that their medical condition may have improved and times that a Social Security consultative examination may indicate that the individual’s medical condition has improved to the point that they are able to return to work.

All of that being said, most individuals who are not able to return to work remain on Social Security disability until they convert to retirement (SSI disability recipients age into Supplemental Security aged claimants). This means that most individuals who are found medically disabled by the Social Security Administration will receive a monthly benefit check for the rest of their lives.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

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