Going through the process of being approved for Social Security Disability benefits can be an ordeal, and once you’ve finally been approved you may think it’s finally over. The truth is, your benefits may or may not be permanent, depending on the category of disability the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines you fit into.
Whether or not your benefits are permanent or if they will periodically be reviewed will be based on how Social Security Disability classifies your case in one of these three categories:
–Medical Improvement Expected (MIE): The SSA believes your disability-qualifying condition will improve within six to 18 months.
–Medical Improvement Possible (MIP): The SSA believes your disability-qualifying condition will improve in two to five years.
–Medical Improvement Not Expected (MINE): The SSA believes you have a permanent disability and recovery is not possible.
If your case is determined to be MIE or MIP, you can expect periodic reviews. If it’s determined that you are able to return to work, your benefits will be discontinued. Even if you are determined to be MINE status, your case will still be reviewed every five to seven years.
How the SSA Determines if You Are Disabled
If you will not be able to do your job or perform another type of work within a specified period of time the Social Security Administration may deem you to be disabled. They do this via a five-step process that includes asking you the following questions.
–What is your age, education, and work experience?
–Are you able to continue working in your previous position or industry?
–Are you able to perform any other type of work?
To determine your disability classification, the SSA must also be provided with medical evidence that establishes your condition by either laboratory or clinical diagnostic techniques. Statements from individuals who are familiar with your disability will not be enough to prove your condition.
Appealing the SSA’s Decision
If you don’t agree with your disability classification or you believe you were unfairly denied during your case review, you have the right to appeal the Social Security Administration’s decision by requesting a review. Approximately 72% of all review requests will be denied, but you can improve your odds by hiring a Social Security Disability lawyer.
The appeals process can be lengthy, and during this time period your condition may worsen. If this is the case, you will be able to present your new medical records as proof that you are permanently disabled.
Reasons the SSA May Change Their Decision
Although it does not happen in the majority of appeals, in some cases the administration’s Appeals Council will agree to update your classification or reinstate your benefits. This includes cases where the administrative law judge (ALJ):
–Didn’t discuss or consider the opinion of your physician
–Ignored evidence of a medical condition
–Failed to consider additional evidence such as medical statements
Your lawyer will review your case to determine if the ALJ incorrectly applied the Social Security laws to your case. They can also help you gather evidence and review any new evidence. They may even bring in expert witnesses who can testify on your behalf.
If you’ve been determined to be permanently disabled by the SSA, don’t worry, unless you experience a miracle cure your benefits will continue until you have reached the age of retirement. At this time that’s 66, but it’s expected to rise slightly in the future. After retirement age, you will receive the Social Security retirement benefits you paid into while you were still working instead.