How Long Do Disability Benefits Last in Pennsylvania?

Getting awarded monthly disability benefits is only half the battle.  Once the Social Security Administration approves your claim for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) or SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), it’s important that you don’t accidentally do anything which could compromise your hard-earned benefits.  What sorts of problems could result in your benefits being cut off by the SSA?  And just how long do disability payments last?  Our Lehigh County disability lawyers explain what sort of a benefits timeline claimants can expect once they’ve been approved.

How Long Can I Receive SSI or SSDI After My Claim is Approved?

Congratulations on getting your claim for disability approved by the SSA.  Now that your benefits are starting, you’re probably wondering, “How long will my benefits last?”  Will it be months?  Years?  The rest of your life?

Put simply, the answer is different for every claimant.  It depends on your personal circumstances.  Health, age, finances, and other factors can all play an important role.

Typically speaking, it is possible for an SSDI claimant’s disability benefits to continue until he or she reaches the full retirement age, at which point the benefits convert from SSDI to retirement benefits.  Note that the full retirement age changes depending on when you were born, and has gradually increased with time.  While many people assume the full retirement age is 65, this is true only of claimants who were born in or prior to 1937.  If you were born in 1938, just a year later, your full retirement age is actually 65 and two months.  (The full retirement age increases to 66 for persons born from 1943 through 1954, and to 67 for anyone born in 1960 or after.)

Because SSI is based on financial need rather than the claimant’s work history, SSI benefits do not convert into retirement benefits upon attainment of the full retirement age.  You can be older than 65 and continue to receive SSI benefits.  While one of the qualifying conditions for SSI is being 65 or older, many younger people are also eligible for SSI because they meet other acceptable criteria, such as having a severe and long-term medical condition.

As the SSA explains, “Generally, your disability benefits will continue as long as your medical condition has not improved and you cannot work.”  However, that doesn’t always mean that benefits last forever.  As the SSA goes on to state, “Because of advances in medical science and rehabilitation techniques, many people with disabilities recover from serious accidents and illnesses.”  The final point is extremely important: “We will review your case periodically to make sure you still are disabled.”  

Why Did the SSA Stop My Disability Payments?

There are a few different reasons the SSA might decide to terminate SSI or SSDI payments.  For example, the SSA can stop your payments if you leave the United States for a long period of time, if you go to jail, or if you earn too much money.  When a child beneficiary turns 18 years old, his or her child benefits will end, but don’t panic: they simply need to be reassessed under the adult standards.  (For example, the SSA uses separate Listings of Impairments for child and adult claimants.)

If your condition improves to the point where you can work again, you are no longer considered severely impaired by SSA criteria, and therefore no longer qualify for benefits.  This might occur if a claimant has a successful surgical procedure, finds treatment that works well, or the disease gets better.  For example, Type II diabetes sometimes reverses or goes into remission if the patient improves their diet and gets lots of exercise.  Of course, you should always consult with a licensed physician if you have any questions about your condition, your treatment options, or any other medical issues.

Sometimes, a disease initially improves before worsening again later.  If this occurs, you may become eligible once more.  A Philadelphia disability benefits lawyer can help you understand if and how your condition meets SSA standards for impaired functionality.

As noted earlier, the SSA continually reexamines claimants to ensure that payments are being awarded appropriately.  However, if your condition does improve (or if you have another change in circumstances), it is your responsibility to inform the SSA – not the other way around.

You can find more information in our article about reasons why disability benefits are discontinued.

Our Pennsylvania Social Security Disability Lawyers Can Help

If you’re concerned about your SSI or SSDI being taken away or want to appeal a disability denial, Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates may be able to help.  Our disability attorneys have more than two decades of experience handling thousands of claims in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and give free initial consultations.  To set up your free, private case evaluation, call our law offices right away at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania.

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Philadelphia, PA

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Quakertown, PA

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Allentown, PA

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