What is a Closed Period?
When a Social Security Disability applicant applies for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA) and is found to be ineligible for future disability benefits, but had been eligible to receive benefits for a period of time in the past, the period of time that the applicant was eligible to receive benefits is referred to as a closed period.
A closed period of eligibility usually occurs when a disability applicant has had to endure the lengthy disability appeal process before having their disability case decided.
Example of Closed Period
For example, a closed period may occur when a disability applicant requests a hearing before an administrative law judge. At this hearing, the judge may determine that the applicant's condition has improved significantly since the individual filed their initial application for disability benefits.
Because of this, the applicant would be denied disability benefits in the future. However, the judge may find that at some point during the applicant's appeal they were entitled to disability payments and those benefits must be paid to the disability applicant.
For purposes of this example, let's say that the disability appeal took the applicant two years to complete. The judge determines that as of now, the applicant is not completely disabled and is not entitled to Social Security Disability payments.
However, the judge also determines that there were fourteen months when the applicant was indeed entitled to the Social Security Disability benefits. In this case, the disability applicant would be awarded past due benefits for the fourteen month period of time.
This period is referred to as a “closed period” and the applicant would receive the full back payment of the benefits they had been entitled to during this closed period of eligibility.
Things to Consider
It is important to note that even if a disability applicant is entitled to back payment for a closed period of eligibility, it does not mean that the applicant will receive benefits for the full duration of that period.
The applicant must still wait the five month waiting period established by the SSA. For example, if it is determined that the applicant was disabled for only fourteen months, they may only receive nine months of back pay due to this five-month disability waiting period.
However, even nine months of disability back pay can equate to thousands of dollars. Because of this, even if your condition has improved, it is important to pursue your disability benefits for a closed period of eligibility.