In this video, we discuss the Social Security 12-month duration rule, which dictates the timeframe you must be off work to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.


The 12-month rule is a crucial aspect of Social Security’s disability definition. To be eligible for benefits, you must be unable to work for a full year or longer, or your condition must result in death. For instance, if you take an eight-month leave due to a back surgery or major joint replacement but then return to work, you won’t qualify for SSDI benefits.

However, if your absence from work lasts 14 months or more, you may be eligible for something called a “closed period.” This refers to a specific start and end date during which you can receive benefits. In many cases, individuals we handle are unable to work for an extended period, so they meet the duration requirement automatically.

A common question we receive is, “When should individuals who will be off work apply for benefits?” While it varies case by case, most people tend to apply right around the time they stop working. This is because the likelihood of being denied is already high. Waiting a year after stopping work to apply and then starting a potentially two-year-long process seems counterproductive. It’s essential to weigh individual circumstances when considering the best time to apply.

It’s worth mentioning that while we provide general information about the basic rules, major decisions like these should be discussed with a lawyer or a qualified professional. We hope you found this information helpful. If you or a loved one need assistance with your Social Security case, don’t hesitate to contact us at (847) 577-4476. We are ready to assist clients from any state across the country.