Missourians who are approved for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits should be aware that in most cases, the benefits have a time limit. Since the basic premise behind SSD benefits is to provide for those who are unable to provide for themselves due to an illness, condition or injury and many of these problems will eventually improve sufficiently so the person can get back to work, there will be periodic continuing disability reviews to ensure that the individual remains sufficiently disabled to keep getting benefits. Understanding permanent impairments vs. nonpermanent impairments is critical when preparing for a review.

For those whose impairment is permanent, the review is generally not a problem and their benefits will continue. For those whose disability is nonpermanent, it is possible their benefits will stop. A permanent impairment generally means there will be no expected medical improvement. The condition is so severe that the Social Security Administration believes it will stay the same or will worsen progressively or due to complications associated with it. Factors like the person’s age, the current labor market and whether they can do substantial gainful activity (SGA) will be important. Examples of conditions that will be labeled as permanent are Parkinson’s Syndrome of sufficient severity, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), diffuse pulmonary fibrosis for those 55 or older and an amputation of the leg at the hip.

With nonpermanent impairments, the person has an impairment that might show medical improvement and that improvement could make it possible for them to perform SGA and get back to work. This does not imply that the improvement is expected, but that it cannot be predicted whether it will improve or not. The condition will not reach a severity to be deemed permanent. Examples are chronic ulcerative colitis and other conditions that have improved for others in the past and let them get back to work.

It is natural to be concerned about various aspects of applying for and continuing to receive SSD benefits. The review process is a foundational part of any case no matter how severe the person’s disability is. For those whose disability is considered permanent, the benefits will likely continue and the review is less frequent than with nonpermanent conditions. With any case, having legal advice is key. Calling a lawyer who has assisted many clients with their Social Security Disability benefits can provide guidance and help from the application through the review and with any other part of a claim.