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I had a Social Security disability hearing this week for a closed period case. A closed period means that the claimant was disabled for a period of time, but is not disabled on a continuing basis.

Usually, a closed period occurs because the claimant returns to work at the SGA level prior to the hearing date. Occasionally, a closed period occurs because the claimant's medical condition improves to the point where the claimant no longer meets the definition of disability. Either way, the closed period must last longer than 12 months to qualify for disability benefits.

I believe that judges tend to favor closed period cases, because the closed period resolves an essential credibility issue. If you were working before, and you are working now, then there was probably a good reason why you were unable to work during the disability period.

I think judges also are encouraged by the fact that a closed period means that the person will not be receiving disability benefits indefinitely.

Elizabeth Stakenborg recently wrote about the closed period of disability.