Many people seeking Social Security Disability Insurance benefits have no idea what to expect from the process. Part of the job of a Social Security disability attorney is to guide people with qualifying disabilities through an application process that often feels like a maze of regulations, requirements and appeals. Even after they’ve been approved for benefits, however, many people are still confused about what happens next.

Once SSDI benefits begin, the first question many people have is how long they can expect those benefits to continue. Unlike with some types of insurance, you will continue to receive SSDI benefits as long as you’re still disabled from meaningful work, or until you reach retirement age.

Social Security disability benefits are intended for people whose disabilities are expected to last at least a year, so not everyone will need SSDI permanently. You continue to qualify for benefits as long as you still meet the SSA’s definition of disability, which is basically:

  • Your disability keeps you from performing the kind of work you have before; and
  • The SSA has determined that your disability will prevent you from adjusting to different work you are qualified to perform.

Many people would far rather support themselves by working than rely on disability benefits. If your disabling mental or physical condition improves to the point you can successfully do so, you should notify the Social Security Administration. The agency will periodically review your case to verify if you are still unable to work.

If your condition won’t change but you could adapt to different work with rehabilitation or new training, the SSA offers a program called Ticket to Work that can help you. Ticket to Work participants are eligible for free vocational rehabilitation, career training, counseling, job placement and ongoing support through any qualifying Employment Network or state vocational rehabilitation agency of your choice that is willing to work with you.

Just as important, the SSA has work incentives in place so your SSDI benefits and Medicaid or Medicare insurance doesn’t disappear as soon as you get a job. Your benefits and health insurance continue during your transition back to work. You can also get help with extra work-related expenses due to your condition.

Source: Herald & Review, “Social Security: I just received my first disability payment. How long will I continue to get them?” Gerald Tilley, Dec. 18, 2013