Do I have to be permanently disabled to get Social Security Disability benefits?
Learn how you can get Social Security Disability benefits when your disability is not permanent and see how long you have to be disabled to get benefits.
Disability Doesn’t Have to Be Forever
One of the most common misconceptions about Social Security Disability is that to get Social Security disability benefits, you must be permanently disabled. This is not true. Social Security only requires you to be disabled for twelve months. If you recover, your benefits will stop. Many people who are in an accident, or have an illness that causes temporary disability, get Social Security disability payments, recover, and go back to work. So, you definitely are not promising to be disabled forever.
Disability Must Be for Twelve Months, with Exceptions
To be eligible for benefits, you do have to be disabled, or be expected to be disabled, for twelve consecutive months, with one exception. The exception occurs when you stop work because you are disabled, return to work again for six months or less, and then stop work again because of the same disability. In this situation, your return to work may be considered an “unsuccessful work attempt.” If so, your months off work, both before and after your unsuccessful work attempt, will count toward meeting the required twelve months of disability. When you complete your Social Security application for disability, claim the earliest date you believe you were disabled and list any dates that you returned to work for six months or less and stopped due to your health. Our article How Do I File an Application for Social Security Disability Benefits? provides more information about how to file a disability application. If you are uncertain about your earliest date of disability, Social Security Disability attorneys can help you pick the right date.
Work after Twelve Months of Disability
Later, after you have met the twelve-month duration requirement, you may be eligible for one of Social Security’s many work incentive programs, which allow work while receiving benefits. Our article Can I Keep Getting Benefits When I Am Working on Social Security Disability? discusses Social Security return-to-work incentives.
Understanding Social Security Disability (SSD)—An Overview of the Basics
Social Security Disability Requirements: How to Qualify for SSD
Social Security Disability Insurance: A Complete Guide
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