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Establishing and protecting a closed period freeze under Title II

The process of filing for and receiving temporary (or closed end) Social Security disability benefits can be long and drawn out. In some cases, the claimant may have a significant delay between the effective date that his or her disability diminished to the point that it was possible to return to the workplace and the date that the claimant filed the application.

Closed End Benefits can be sought retroactively when two conditions are met -- the claimant must have experienced debilitation that prevented “substantial gainful activity” for a period of at least 12 months, and the debilitation ceased prior to filing the application for benefits. It is important to note that if the claimant waits to file until 14 or more months after the debilitation ceased, no retroactive benefits will be payable without a “closed period freeze.” Within these parameters, one can establish a closed period of disability.

In some circumstances, a closed period freeze allows for retroactive benefits to be received by a claimant after the 14-month deadline for filing after the cessation of a disability. To establish a closed period freeze, the application must be filed after the 14-month deadline, but within a 36-month window from the month that the debilitation effectively ceased. Furthermore, the claimant must be able to demonstrate that the condition was instrumental in preventing him or her from signing and filing the documents, or that the condition rendered him or her mentally incompetent.

Seeking and obtaining Social Security disability benefits is a complicated process filled with potentially frustrating requirements and surprises. Anyone attempting this process may benefit greatly from the assistance of a qualified legal representative whose experience will help guide the individual through the process and reach an ideal outcome.

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