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Many people believe that they are only eligible to obtain disability payments if they are permanently disabled. This is only partially true. If you apply for either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you may be eligible to receive a closed period of disability benefits.

 What is a Closed Period of Disability Benefits?

A closed period of disability benefits is awarded when a claimant is ineligible for ongoing benefits but eligible to receive benefits for a period of time in the past. Closed disability benefits are different from normal SSDI or SSI payments, which are generally ongoing. You are receiving disability benefits with a definite beginning and ending date. For example, some people who apply for Social Security Disability benefits may be able to go back to work after a period of recovery.

How to Qualify for a Closed Period Disability Benefit

A closed period of disability is the period of time between the onset of a disability and the date when a claimant is physically able to return to work performing substantial gainful activity (SGA). For the sake of disability benefits, substantial gainful activity is work that allows a person to earn a certain amount of money per month. In 2017, that amount is $1,170 for a non-blind disabled person, and $1,950 for a blind applicant.

To qualify for a closed period disability benefit, there must be a disability that persisted or will persist for at least 12 months. You can still file a claim for a closed period of disability if you have already gone back to work, provided you meet the requirements of being out of work for at least 12 months. The claimant must also file an application for benefits within 14 months after the disability period ends. If you miss this deadline, you may be able to show that failure to apply was due to an impairment. If this is the case, an application must be filed within 36 months of the disability ending.

When you file a closed period disability claim, expect to wait and be asked to prove your case. A claimant will need to present evidence of impairment, which often involves submitting medical records and statements from qualified medical professionals. There will be a hearing to decide your case, and you can also appeal if your claim is denied. Because there are many pitfalls involved in filing for government disability benefits, it is best to consult with an experienced Alabama disability attorney before filing your claim.

 SSDI vs. SSI Closed Period Disability Benefits

Since there are closed period benefits available under both SSDI and SSI, many claimants want to know about the differences between these programs. The variances lie in the waiting periods as well as the protection of future benefits. For example, SSI closed period benefits will pay for the entire period of disability. However, it will also count this disability period in your earnings record for potential future disability and retirement benefits, which will likely reduce those benefits. SSDI closed disability benefits will have a five-month waiting period, but they will also freeze your earnings record during the time you are disabled for the sake of future benefits.

How Difficult Is It to Win a Closed Period Claim?

Fortunately, if you expect your injury or illness to be short-term, you might have a good chance of approval for a closed period of disability benefits claim. While these claims still take work, and wading through mountains of red tape to apply and qualify for, the benefits are easier to receive than an open disability case. From the Social Security Administration’s perspective, a short period of disability is less of a financial risk than an indefinite one.

If you have suffered a serious injury or illness which has caused you to be out of work for at least 12 months, you may be eligible for disability benefits. Contact the experienced Social Security Disability attorney at Walton Law at (215) 455-5819 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim.