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How Long Will Social Security Disability Benefits Last?

Many people are under the mistaken assumption that Social Security Disability benefits last forever. This isn't necessarily the case. While many people will receive Social Security Disability benefits until they reach the retirement age of 65, not everyone will. For those who do receive Social Security Disability benefits until age 65, Social Security benefits will not just stop altogether. They will simply change from Social Security Disability benefits to Social Security Retirement benefits. There are, however, some instances in which a Social Security Disability beneficiary will have their disability benefits stopped prior to reaching the age of 65.

Why Social Security Disability Benefits End

There are a number of reasons why Social Security Disability benefits would be revoked after being instated. The most common reasons for a stop in Social Security Disability benefits are improvement of one's disabling condition, incarceration, or a return to work. How long you receive Social Security Disability benefits will be determined by whether or not these factors come into play and, if so, when. For example, someone could begin receiving Social Security Disability benefits in 2010 and those benefits could go under review in 2013. If the Social Security Administration decides that the person is no longer disabled, the benefits could stop.

Social Security reviews disability benefits on a regular basis. These reviews are called Continuing Disability Reviews and they are given to everyone who receives Social Security Disability benefits. The time between these reviews depends on whether or not your condition is expected to improve. As a general rule, benefits are reviewed every 18 months, every 3 years, or every 7 years depending on your condition and your chances of improvement.

Improvement of one's condition is not the only reason Social Security Benefits can be revoked. You might also lose your Social Security Disability benefits if you end up in prison. If you are in jail for more than 30 days, your Social Security Disability benefits will stop. However, incarceration does not permanently end your Social Security Disability benefits. If you get out of jail you can have your Social Security Disability Insurance benefits reinstated at that time.

Social Security Disability benefits may also end if a person decides to go back to work and can earn a substantial income. If that is the case, you would no longer be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits but you may be entitled to Social Security retirement benefits once you reach the age of 65. If you do decide to return to work your benefits will not stop right away. You can earn income on a “trial” basis for up to nine months before your Social Security Disability benefits are revoked. If you try to return to work and find that you are unable to cope with it, your Social Security Benefits will not end.

How to Keep Your Social Security Disability Benefits in Effect

If you remain disabled until you reach the age of 65, then you will be able to keep your Social Security Disability benefits until you reach retirement age. At that point your Social Security Disability payments will change from Social Security Disability to Social Security Retirement payments. It is important, however, to understand that you need to take steps to ensure you are actually able to keep your Social Security Disability benefits in effect for the duration of that period.

First and foremost, you need to stay on top of your condition. That means scheduling regular doctor's visits. You should continue to explain to your doctor how your condition prevents you from performing normal day-to-day activities so that there is documentation of your continuing disability. This will be needed for your Continuing Disability Reviews.

When you receive your Continuing Disability Review notices, make sure that you reply to them in a timely manner. If you refuse to respond to a review, you may lose your Social Security Disability benefits. Because of this, it is important that all review requests are met in a timely manner and that you provide any necessary documentation. In some cases you may also need to meet with an independent physician (arranged by Social Security) for a medical examination.

Again, there is really no “one size fits all” answer as to how long Social Security Disability benefits last. To put it in the simplest terms, Social Security Disability benefits can remain in effect for as long as you are disabled or until you reach the age of 65. Once you reach the age of 65, Social Security Disability benefits stop and retirement benefits kick in.