To be found disabled, you must be unable to work engage in substantial gainful activity because of your conditions for at least twelve continuous months. However, disability claims can literally take years to be resolved. It is not at all uncommon for a claimant to have a condition that takes her off work for over a year before she has medical improvement. For these individuals, a Judge at hearing can determine that the claimant became disabled, was entitled to benefits/backpay and has now made medical improvement that prevents her from receiving an ongoing check. These claimants are thus able to get a decision awarding them backpay, but not an ongoing monthly check.
When Can I Ask For A Closed Period?
Closed Period awards are almost always done by an Administrative Law Judge at a hearing (the third step in the Disability appeals process). Additionally, though closed period awards are relatively common, there is no formal way of asking for such an award until you reach the ALJ. Therefore, at the Initial and Reconsideration stages, even if the DDS could grant such a claim, there is no way for you to ask them to do so.
However, when you are at the hearing stage, if your condition has improved to the point that you are able to go back to work, you can ask the Judge for a closed period based upon the time that you were off work.
What Sorts Of Conditions Are Eligible For A Closed Period?
There is no set list for the types of illnesses that can make one eligible for a closed period. Over the years, I have seen this most commonly for cancer patients who go into remission. This also occurs for people who have been in major car accidents requiring follow up surgery. But really, it could be any medical condition that precludes you from working for at least twelve months.