Can I get Social Security disability benefits if I expect to get better and return to work?

Q: Can I get Social Security disability benefits if I expect to get better and return to work?

A: You have to have been disabled, or expect to be disabled, for at least one year to be eligible. So, if you expect to be out of work for one year or more on account of illness or injury, you should file for Social Security disability benefits. Do NOT wait until the year has elapsed before you begin. Get legal help at the outset.

The final award rate for disabled-worker applicants has varied over time, averaging nearly 45 percent for claims filed from 2000 through 2009. The percentage of applicants awarded benefits at the initial claims level averaged 28 percent over the same period and ranged from a high of 37 percent to a low of 26 percent. The percentage of applicants awarded at the reconsideration and hearing levels are averaging 3 percent and 13 percent, respectively. Denied overall disability claims at all stages have averaged nearly 53 percent.

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