One frequently asked question regarding Social Security disability benefits is whether they can expire, leaving still disabled claimants with no way to remain financially solvent. Fortunately, once a claimant is approved for disability benefits, their benefits will continue until they are deemed no longer disabled. Benefits do not have a time limit.
Claim examiners do, however, conduct case reviews regularly. Examiners are looking to ensure that beneficiaries still meet the Social Security Administration's (SSA) definition of disabled for their impairment category. If the beneficiary no longer meets the disability listing requirements, benefits will be discontinued. There is a process to dispute the SSA's determination to revoke benefits, and beneficiaries can appeal to continue receiving benefits while they are disputing the review. In other words, the SSA will not simply revoke benefits without warning.
As for whether or not there is a limit on how long after leaving work a claimant can wait before filing for disability benefits, there is no official limit on that either. When filing for disability, claimants must have at least 20 work credits within the ten years leading up to a disability. If a worker earned the maximum four work credits per year, he/she can wait up to five years from the point of discontinuing work to apply for benefits.
However, a claimant could also receive benefits if he/she can prove that a disability forced him/her out of a job ten years ago, and they had 20 work credits leading up to that disability. The process becomes more difficult, but if a claimant can gather the requisite medical documentation and sufficiently prove the disability started ten years ago, no SSA guidelines would prevent their claim from being approved. In this case, the claimant would greatly benefit from working with a disability attorney. The burden of proving a disability in the past is often not something a claimant is prepared to handle without an intimate understanding of Social Security laws and regulations.