What are Closed Benefits/Closed Periods?

A closed period of disability is determined when medical evidence establishes you were unable to engage in substantial gainful work activity for a continuous period of 12 months, but by the time the disability decision is made, you have medically recovered. There are certain requirements to be entitled to a closed period of disability:

  1. You must have filed the application within 14 months after the disability ended; or

  2. You must have filed an application between 15 and 36 months after the disability ended and you must show that your failure or inability to file a timely application was due to your physical or mental incapacity. You may be entitled to a period of disability but not to monthly disability benefit payments. A closed period of disability helps protect your insured status and increases potential future retirement or disability benefits.

A closed period of disability is most commonly used in cases where a traumatic event is the cause of the medical condition. For example, if you are in an accident and you are severely injured or if you are receiving cancer treatments, it may take you as long as a year before you are recovered well enough to return to work. In situations like this, you may receive your Social Security benefits just for the period of time in which you were unable to work. A closed period must be at least 12 months in duration, but may be longer.

If you are injured and your doctor has removed you from work or you are unable to return to work, it is important for you to speak with a Social Security attorney to see if you should apply for benefits. Many people do not know about the closed period option and do not seek benefits for that period of time.

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