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How long will I receive Social Security Disability benefits?

Obtaining Social Security Disability benefits can be challenging. The federal disability benefits program has strict qualification standards, and many applications are initially denied, requiring appeals for people who are unable to work due to disability to obtain benefits. The good news is that once you have been approved for disability benefits, you can continue to receive them as long as you are disabled and unable to work.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) may review your case periodically to determine whether you are still eligible for benefits. The SSA says your eligibility may change if your health improves enough that you could work, or if you find that you would rather go back to work than receive your benefits.

How often your case is reviewed may depend on the chances that your medical condition could improve and how severe it is. For example:

  • If your medical condition should improve within a specific time, your case may be reviewed within six to 18 months after you begin receiving benefits.
  • If your case may improve at some point, your benefits may be reviewed every three years.
  • If your condition is not likely to get better, your case may be reviewed every five to seven years.

You can expect a letter from the SSA when a review starts. The SSA says a disability examiner and a doctor may review your file and request medical reports, and you may have to have an examination. If the SSA is satisfied that you are still disabled, you will continue receiving your benefits. If the SSA finds that you are no longer disabled, you may file an appeal.

Source: Social Security Administration, “What You Need To Know When You Get Social Security Disability Benefits,” April 2011

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