Ongoing & Closed Period SSDI Benefits

Massachusetts Social Security Disability Insurance Attorneys

The Massachusetts Social Security disability lawyers at Kantrovitz & Associates are devoted to obtaining workers’ compensation and Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits for temporarily and permanently disabled workers. For over 25 years, we have established eligibility for ongoing and closed period benefits in claims and hearings before the Social Security Administration (SSA). Our Boston office can help you proceed with an SSDI claim, even if you do not qualify for ongoing benefits because you returned to work. We represent disabled workers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.

Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)

Title II of the Social Security Act (the “Act”) provides disability benefits to “insured” workers who contribute taxed earnings to the Social Security trust fund. The Act defines “disability” as the inability to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of a medically diagnosed physical or mental impairment that may be fatal or lasts for at least 12 consecutive months. In most cases, cash benefits will continue as long as the disability lasts. But health improvements that allow recipients to engage in SGA, such as returning to work, may change their eligibility for benefits. The SSA periodically reviews cases to verify that claimants remain disabled.

Closed Period of Disability

The Act is codified in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). 20 CFR § 404 only provides benefits for up to 12 months immediately preceding the date on which applicants file a claim. While waiting for the SSA to adjudicate the claim, applicants may recover and no longer be “disabled.” The delay between this date and the filing of the claim is known as a “closed period” of disability. This affects the number of months retroactive cash benefits will be awarded. But disabled applicants may still be entitled to closed period benefits, even if they return to work.

Closed Period Benefits

A closed period claim for benefits often has a greater likelihood of success than an open claim for ongoing benefits. Eligibility for SSDI retroactive cash benefits requires that:

  • Time between onset of disability and return to work exceeds 12 months
    • Impairment prevented SGA for at least 12 months and
  • Disability ceased before adjudication, but no more than 14 months prior to filing claim
    • Claimants have 2-month grace period for payment after 12-month disability
Protecting Closed Period “Freeze”

Under Title II, a closed period disability freeze preserves the applicant’s insured status by freezing income at the time workers become eligible for a period of disability. This prevents the loss of future retirement or disability benefits that would otherwise ignore periods of disability. To qualify for a closed period freeze, evidence must show that the claimant:

  • Applied more than 14 months, but within 36 months, after disability ceased; and
  • Was mentally incompetent or had physical condition that made claimant
    • Unable to complete and sign application 14 months after disability ceased
  • Exception for statutory blindness regardless of SGA criteria
    • Eligible for freeze but not for cash benefits if worker can engage in SGA

SSA rules provide other incentives for disabled people to try returning to work without losing their SSDI benefits and Medicare or Medicaid. Incentives include continued cash benefits; help with medical costs; and assistance with work expenses or vocational training.

Obtaining SSDI Benefits

If you want to improve your chances of obtaining ongoing or closed period SSDI benefits, contact the Massachusetts disability attorneys of Kantrovitz & Associates today. We have over 25 years of experience handling SSDI claims and are dedicated to representing injured workers in Boston, Norfolk, Suffolk, Plymouth, Essex, Middlesex, Merrimack River, and other counties. Call (800) 367-0871 for a free consultation or contact us online.