To be eligible to receive disability benefits, you must have a mental or physical condition that lasts, or is expected to last, for at least 12 continuous months or is expected to result in death.
If you have a chronic condition that gets better and worse or has short remission periods, you may be concerned about this requirement. The duration requirement is not usually a problem in such cases so long as the active periods of your illness prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity on a sustained basis. However, you may not string together unrelated severe impairments to meet the duration requirement.
When a claim is denied for failure to meet the duration requirement, it’s usually because the impairment is the type that is likely to improve within 12 months. The duration requirement is often not a problem in cases that require a hearing because the 12 months usually have passed by the time you actually attend a hearing.
If you satisfy the twelve-month duration requirement, but your condition then improves enough for you to work, you may ask for a finding of a closed period of disability during which you would potentially be eligible for benefits.
Watch for my next blog on Step 3 of the Sequential Evaluation Process.