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Our firm represents hard working people who get hurt or develop a disease. Their condition may affect their ability to keep working.  These are usually proud people who have earned their way in life, and want to get back to work.  Sometimes their injuries and illnesses make them miss more time from work than they expected. They probably qualify for social security disability. .  Yet they will often decline the opportunity to apply for benefits. This is because they don’t want to spend the rest of their life sitting around, not doing anything but living off of benefits.  The good news is that they don’t have to do it that way! They may be eligible for a closed period of disability.


When you miss work for a year, or expect to miss work for a year because of an injury or illness, you can qualify for social security disability.  You can even return to work and still apply for benefits covering the time you were NOT able to work.  We call this a closed period of disability.

A closed period of disability is the time between the onset of your disability and the end of your disability.  In other words, the date you become disabled opens the period of disability and the day you are able to return to work closes the period of disability.

You can ask for a closed period of disability if your impairment (that is your injuries or illnesses) prevent you from substantial gainful activity for at least 12 consecutive months. Additionally, your disability must end before the Social Security Administration awards you benefits.  This means that if you are off work for a year and then return to work, you can ask for the closed period of disability.

This works out well for people who have had a workers’ comp injury. Especially if they have had surgery or the insurance company denied treatment along the way.  So, injured workers need to file for closed periods of disability from social security when their recovery takes a year or longer following the work accident.

Back pay on social security disability is limited to one year from the date benefits are requested.  So, it is very important to file as early as possible. This way you don’t lose out on any benefits from waiting too long to file.


Finally, closed periods of disability are usually easier to win than open benefit claims.  The fact that you have returned to work is pretty good evidence that you aren’t somebody just trying to game the system.

I recommend filing for benefits as soon as you know that you are probably going to be out of work for at least a year.  This is often around the 9th month of disability if you know you have a lot more treatment ahead of you before returning to work.