How Long Does SSDI Last?

It can take months or even years to finally get your hands on your disability benefits. But how long does SSDI last?

According to the SSA, you can continue receiving benefits as long as you have a disability. But in general, how long your SSDI payments last will depend on your age and disability. In some cases, it only lasts a few years, while others may continue to receive disability benefits well into their retirement.

You see, when you reach retirement age, your SSDI benefits automatically convert into retirement benefits. But there are instances where the SSA will cut off your benefits way before your retirement.

Keep in mind, however, that the SSA only approves disability claims if your condition is expected to last for at least 12 months. So disability benefits also tend to last no shorter than a year.

To help you gauge how long you can continue receiving disability benefits, we created this quick guide.

What Can Cause SSDI Payments to Stop?

As I said, there are factors that can prompt the SSA to terminate your disability benefits. This includes:

1. Earning a “substantial” income

Disability benefits are awarded on the pretext that you can’t earn enough to support yourself. So if you’ve returned to work and are already earning a substantial income, the SSA will cut off your disability checks.

In SSA language, this “substantial income” is referred to as Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). The maximum SGA amount tends to change every year. For 2023, the monthly income limit is $2,460 for blind individuals and $1,470 for non-blind individuals.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t go to work if you’re on disability. The SSA allows disability beneficiaries to a 9-month trial work period. During which, you’ll still continue to receive benefits.

After the trial work period, the SSA will monitor your income for 36 months to determine if you are earning more than the SGA amount. If you do, they will suspend your benefits on the months that you are earning a substantial income.

To illustrate, let’s say your trial work period ended on January. After that, you continued to work until September. For the months of February, May, and June, your income was over the SGA limit. The SSA won’t pay your disability payments on those months. But you will still receive your disability payments on all the other months.

2. Incarceration

Getting incarcerated can stop your disability benefits. But you may continue receiving it after you’re out of prison. This also applies if you’re confined to a psychiatric institution after an insanity plea.

3. Improvement in Medical Condition

After you got approved for disability, the SSA conducts continuing disability reviews (CDR) to assess your medical condition. If they determine that you’re no longer disabled, your disability payments will stop.

A person with a disability who the SSA has assessed to conduct a continuing disability review to determine how long his SSDI will last.

Other Ways Continuing Disability Reviews Can Affect Your SSDI Payments

Aside from an improvement in your medical condition, certain results in your CDR can also affect your SSDI payments.

But first, let’s refresh our memory on the subject.

Continuing disability reviews are periodic assessments the SSA conducts to evaluate your condition. The frequency of these reviews will depend on how likely your medical condition will improve.

If improvement in your medical condition is:

  • Expected – your first CDR will be scheduled 6 to 18 months after you became disabled.
  • Possible but can’t be predicted – your medical condition will be reviewed every three years.
  • Not expected – the SSA will review your case every 7 years.

Your disability benefits will stop if your CDR report determines that:

  • you can already work after receiving a vocational training or advances in medicine has improved your condition
  • there was a mistake in the SSA’s earlier decision to approve or continue your disability benefits
  • you’re not following the treatment your doctor has prescribed (with no valid reason) and that you could probably work if you only followed the treatment plan
  • you made false or misleading claims in your disability application
  • you refuse to cooperate with the SSA for no good reason

If you don’t agree with your CDR results, you have 60 days to appeal the SSA’s decision.

At What Age Does SSDI Reviews Stop?

SSDI reviews generally stop once you reach retirement. At that age, your disability benefits will automatically convert to retirement. So there’s no need to determine if you’re still disabled or not.

How Long Does SSDI Last for a Child?

If you got your SSDI benefits as a child, you generally will continue to receive it until your 18th birthday.

Two months before you turn 18, the SSA will review your case to assess if your condition meets the disability requirements as an adult. If you don’t, your disability benefits will stop.

VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney

Victor Malca P.A. has over 27 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success when fighting for his clients puts him among the most trusted workers’ compensation attorney’s in Florida. He specializes in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claiming lost social security disability benefits.

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About The Author

Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.