Can I Get Temporary Social Security Disability Benefits?

Can I get temporary disability from Social Security?  The technical answer is, “no”.  However, sometimes you become disabled but your condition will improve.  You do not necessarily have to drop your case if you get better and go back to work.  To receive Social Security Disability, you must be disabled for a period of twelve months or more, or you are expected to be disabled for a period of twelve months or more; that is called the “durational requirement”.  When the disabling condition improves, you may still be able to receive disability benefits for the time you were disabled as long as it meets the durational requirement (12 months or more) and you can show medical improvement.  The time between when the disability began (the onset date) and when your condition improved is called the “period of disability”.

Examples of Recent Successful Social Security Disability Claims

Case #1 – Our client was 43 years old when he was unable to work due to complications from his extreme obesity.  He had an enlarged heart, congestive heart failure, and hypertension.  He was short of breath with minimal exertion and had other complications as well.  He weighed over 400 pounds when he stopped working.  Within two years, he lost over 100 pounds and was able to return to work.  The administrative law judge found that during the “period of disability” the claimant could not perform even work which required him to sit all day, but that once he lost weight, his conditions improved.  The claimant received back benefits for the two years he was unable to work.

Case #2 – This individual was 56 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She underwent surgery and radiation and received ongoing treatment with tamoxifen.  Although she initially returned to work, she found she could not continue working.  She developed a painful abscess at the wound site and Major Depressive Disorder and did not return to work for nineteen months.  The administrative law judge found that the claimant was disabled for the nineteen month period of disability because her wound had finally healed with minimal residual pain and her depression improved sufficiently for her to return to work.

Case #3 – Our client was 46 years old when he underwent a bowel resection and the placement of a colostomy bag.  After the surgery, he was unable to return to work as a warehouse worker or any other work.  He did not have money or insurance for continuing medical care and removal of the colostomy bag. Two and one half years later, a charitable organization arranged for the reversal surgery with removal of the colostomy bag.  Although initially he had complications with wound healing, he was fully recovered within six months of the second surgery.  Although the client was not yet working, at the hearing, the administrative law judge found that the client was disabled from the time of the first surgery when the colostomy bag was placed until six months after the removal of the colostomy bag and reversal surgery.

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