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Can you get Social Security disability payments your entire life?

Disability payments can’t start until you’ve been disabled for five months.

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As long as you are not able to work, you could keep getting payments.

May payment dates for Social Security, SSI, and SSDI


Supplementary Security Income (SSI) is distributed to most Americans once they reach retirement age. It is targeted at those with little to no retirement savings. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is available to anyone who requests it, as long as they meet certain requirements. Find additional information here.

Before you can apply for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will need proof of your disability. The disability also has to fit their criteria. If you plan to make a claim, it is required that you have been disabled for five full months. However, there is an exception for people with ALS who can start immediately.

You may have to jump through some hoops to get approved for the benefit. However, if your disability persists, you will not be removed as a recipient.

How long will the payments last?

As long as your disability prevents you from  working, you can continue to claim the benefit. The SSA does periodic case reviews to ensure that you still qualify. If you are deemed able to work, your disability benefits will end and be classified as unemployed.

You need to contact the SSA if:

  • your ability to work changes
  • you return to work
  • your medical condition improves

If any of these changes apply and you don’t contact the SSA, it could be considered fraud.

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