How long will I be paid while I am disabled?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is considered a long-term, permanent disability program. Benefits, however, can be terminated for very specific reasons. Recently on our forum a user asked, "If I am disabled how long will I continue to receive SSDI benefits?"

Unlike benefits such as workers' compensation benefits which are paid for a specific number of weeks following an accident, the SSA will continue to pay Social Security Disability Insurance benefits as long as you are considered disabled by the SSA, you do not return to work, you are not sent to prison, and you do not reach your full retirement age.

Medical improvement and terminating SSDI benefits

If you are receiving SSDI benefits the Social Security Administration (SSA) is required to perform periodic medical reviews to ensure you remain disabled. The continuing disability reviews (CDR) are generally performed every three to seven years, although some conditions will necessitate less frequent reviews. If the SSA determines you are not disabled after a continuing disability review, you have the right to appeal their decision.

Returning to work and losing SSDI benefits

Another reason SSDI benefits could be terminated is if you decide to return to work and work too much and make too much money. The SSA encourages workers to return to work, but if a worker returns to work and earns more than $770 per month (in 2014), the SSA will consider this the start of a trial work period. You have a specific number of months you can work before the SSA will terminate your benefits. Talk to the SSA before returning to work.

Reaching retirement age and losing SSDI benefits

If you are currently receiving SSDI benefits and you reach your full retirement age you will not receive both SSA retirement and SSDI benefits. This is a bit confusing for retirees but when you reach your full retirement age your SSDI benefits will be converted to retirement benefits and you will receive payments under the Social Security retirement benefits program not SSDI.

Being Incarcerated or Institutionalized and losing SSDI benefits

If you are receiving SSDI benefits and you are convicted of a crime and sent to prison, your SSDI benefit payments will be terminated. The individual is not eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits (SSDI or SSI) during incarceration if they have been convicted for a misdemeanor or a felony.

Individuals will also not receive SSDI benefits during intermittent release such as work release, school or hospitalization. If, however, the prisoner has family who are receiving auxiliary benefits they may continue to receive payments even if primary recipient is in prison.

In conclusion, unless you die before reaching your full retirement age you will not get SSDI benefits for life but will get them until you reach your full retirement age, assuming you do not return to work, the SSA does not decide you are no longer disabled, and you do not go to prison.

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