What is a Closed Period of Disability?

A closed period of disability in a Social Security Disability claim case refers to a disability claim that meets durational requirements. For example, some people who apply for Social Security Disability can eventually go back to work. In such cases, individuals may qualify for what is called a closed period of disability and receive Social Security Disability benefits at the same time.

On the other hand, an open period of disability is meant to define someone who is now disabled and will continue to be disabled for the near future. A closed period of disability has a specific begin date and end date. According to Social Security Administration regulations, this period must last at least one year, or 12 months.

The actual date that you were unable to work (which is called the onset or date of onset) on your disability application is the date that literally opens your period of disability. The date that you are actually able to return to work is termed the close of the disability period.

Why Would Someone Qualify for a Closed Period of Disability?

A number of scenarios may determine that disability insurance payments are only temporary. For example, someone recovering from surgery and then is able to go back to work, whether in the same position or performing lighter duties, may experience a closed period of disability. In addition, individuals undergoing mental or emotional therapy and counseling as well as a variety of anxiety disorders that are controlled and enable you to either seek work or receive part-time or full-time employment is another example.

If you have questions about a closed period of disability based on condition, diagnosis or prognosis by a doctor, contact your local Social Security Administration office for clarification and guidance.

Keep in mind that even though you have been approved for Social Security Disability Insurance, beneficiaries may be required to wait up to five months before disability insurance benefits kick in. Therefore, an individual might only receive seven months' worth of Social Security Disability payments over a 12-month period.

The process and the terminology may be confusing to some. For example, an individual may be eligible for disability benefits, but some individuals (most often due to the long wait in processing) experience an improvement of their condition before their case has been approved. Some even go back to work. In such cases, even individuals who have been denied ongoing Social Security Disability Insurance benefits can still receive benefits that were payable during their waiting period while they were disabled.

Regardless of scenario, medical documentation by qualified medical professionals is essential in applying for Social Security Disability Insurance. Medical evidence is even more important in cases where a person may be eligible for a closed disability period. Medical evidence should state clearly when the individual was disabled and for how long. Your doctor's medical records must be accurate and any correspondence to specialists or consultations with other doctors should be sent along to the Social Security Administration.