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SSDI is it only for those with a permanent disability?

Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “Is SSDI only for claimants who have a condition which is considered permanent?” Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is offered to claimants who have a health condition which is so severe they are expected to be out of work for at least 12 continuous months. So it is entirely possible that you could have a condition which is expected to last at least a year but will not necessarily result in permanent disability.

Medical improvements limit permanent disability


With new and improved medical technologies workers, who have suffered what once may have been considered a permanent disability, may be able to get medical treatment which allows them to return to work. For instance, if you are currently getting treatment for cancer and the treatment is expected to last for 12 continuous month you could apply for SSDI benefits for only the time you are out of work and after treatment is completed you could return to work.

The good news is that the Social Security Administration (SSA) also has several programs to help claimants return to work while receiving SSDI benefits (for a specified time period) so they can decide if they are, in fact, able to return to full-time employment.

Who is not able to get SSDI benefits?


Although you do not have to have a permanent disability to get SSDI benefits, you will have to have a serious health condition. SSDI benefits are not offered to claimants with a short-term condition or a condition which is not serious.

To receive SSDI benefits you cannot be working too many hours or making too much money. You also will have to prove you cannot work due to your condition. Consider also, volunteer activities or attending school could be considered “substantial gainful activity” and could eliminate your right to benefits if the SSA believes the effort volunteer work or schooling takes is similar to the effort needed to work full-time.

What if my condition improves?


The SSA performs periodic reviews of your condition if you are receiving SSDI benefits. If you believe your condition has improved to the point you would like to work, you should notify the SSA and let them know you are seeking employment. Do not start working without first notifying the SSA. If you do return to work and do not notify the SSA, you could end up owing them back pay for the benefits you receive.


It is also fraudulent to continue to receive benefits in which you are no longer entitled and takes money from those who are legitimately disabled and need help.

Permanent disability and SSDI benefit


How long will you receive SSDI benefits if you have a permanent disability? SSDI recipients will continue to receive payments until they return to work, they reach their full retirement age, they are sent to prison or they die. When you reach your full retirement age and are receiving SSDI benefits the SSDI benefits are converted to retirement benefits; you will not receive both SSDI and retirement benefits at the same time.