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What is a “closed period of disability” for SSDI purposes?

On Behalf of | Sep 30, 2015 | Social Security Disability

Applications for Social Security Disability benefits can sometimes take a long time for the Social Security Administration to process. Some people in Ohio will wait for over a year before their applications are finalized and they can begin receiving benefits. Because of this, a scenario may spring to the minds of some Ohio residents considering disability applications: What happens if a person’s health improves such that they are not disabled by the time the Social Security Administration’s process concludes?

The answer is something that the SSA terms a ‘closed period of disability.’ This is, in essence, a finite period of time when a person was totally disabled, for which the person may be eligible to receive benefits even if the person is no longer considered disabled by the agency. However, there are some caveats that apply here. First, to be eligible for any benefits at all, there must be evidence that the person was unable to participate in substantial gainful activity for a continuous period of 12 months. Further, any application for SSDI benefits must be filed within 14 months of the end of the period of disability. There is also a five month “waiting period” from the beginning of the disability period before a person becomes eligible for benefits. Finally, a person is eligible for benefits retroactively for only 12 months from the filing of the application for benefits.

So, while someone could file an application for benefits subsequent to the end of the closed period of disability, there are several factors that may reduce the amount of time for which benefits will be paid. For example, a person who was disabled for 13 months may only be eligible for eight months of benefits due to the waiting period, and if that person filed the application six months after the disability period closed, may only receive six months worth of benefits due to the 12 month retroactivity limit.

Closed periods of disability may not be easy to calculate. SSDI is a complicated area of the law, and attempting to receive benefits for a closed disability period makes it even more complex.