Question of the Month: Once approved, how long can you receive disability benefits?

February 13, 2018

If you have been approved to receive Social Security disability benefits, you know very well that you have persevered through a complicated process. Faced with a difficult and uncaring bureaucracy, too many applicants give up in frustration. But now that you have qualified for your hard-earned benefits, you are probably wondering how long your disability benefits will continue.

Once you start receiving benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is required by law to conduct periodic checks of your medical condition to determine if you still meet disability standards. These evaluations of a person’s disability status are called Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs). Although there are some differences from case to case, when you can expect to be contacted for a CDR generally depends on how your case was classified when you were awarded benefits. The SSA uses these three classifications:

  • Medical Improvement is Expected (MIE) – Your review is likely to come at about eighteen months after you start receiving benefits. If you are unable to return to work due to your disability, your Social Security Disability payments will continue and you will receive another review in another six to eighteen months.
  • Medical Improvement Possible (MIP) –Your case will be reviewed after about three years. If your condition has not improved at the time of your review, then you will continue to receive Social Security disability payments and you will be up for review again in about another three years.
  • Medical Improvement Not Expected (MINE) – If your case is labeled as MINE that means that the SSA does not think your condition will ever improve. However, you will still be subject to a review every seven years. As long as your condition does not improve you will continue to receive Social Security disability benefits until you reach retirement age, at which point your disability benefits will switch to Social Security retirement benefits for the remainder of your life.

Keep in mind that the timelines in each of the three classifications can vary quite a bit, because the SSA has an enormous backlog of Continuing Disability Reviews. Oftentimes, cases are never reviewed. Also worth noting is that, even if an SSA Continuing Disability Review determines that you are able to return to work, you can appeal that decision. During this appeal process your monthly Social Security disability benefit payments can continue. However, if you lose your appeal you may be obligated to pay back the disability payments you received during the appeal process.

If you were receiving benefits but they have stopped because Social Security believes that you have regained the ability to work, call the experienced, local attorneys at Nash Disability Law.