How long does your disability need to last?

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2022 | Social Security Benefits

When the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines whether or not you’re eligible for benefits based on your disability, the way that they frame this may be different than you would expect. They have a very strict definition of what does and does not count as a disability under the law.

One element of this involves determining how long said disability needs to last. What does the definition say?

The minimum disability is 12 months

The good news is that the Social Security Administration is very clear about exactly what this definition is, so there shouldn’t be any confusion. According to their own documents, the disability needs to keep you from participating in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) for at least 12 months. It could also be something that lasts for the rest of your life, but 12 months is the minimum that needs to be met. This is true for both physical and mental impairments.

Where this can lead to some complications is if you’re not sure how long your disability will last or if it’s going to be shorter than 12 months but you still can’t work. For instance, you could have serious injuries that mean you can’t work for 10 months, and you may feel that you definitely need benefits just to make ends meet, but that technically doesn’t meet the definition of a disability for the SSA – whether or not it is keeping you out of the workforce. 

If you do get involved in this complicated process, it’s very wise to understand exactly what steps to take and what criteria you need to meet. It can help to have experienced professionals on your side.