What does long-term mean in disability?

Disability is a term that covers a wide range of conditions that affect a person’s ability to perform daily activities.

Some disabilities are temporary, while others are permanent.

But what does long-term mean in disability? How does it differ from short-term or permanent disability? And what are the implications of having a long-term disability?

In this article, we will try to answer these questions and provide some examples of long-term conditions and the benefits of long-term disability.

A picture of a woman being pushed on a wheelchair.[photo courtesy: Joficina]
Long term disability benefits can help people with long term conditions to cover their basic living expenses, such as food, housing, utilities, transportation, and medical care.[photo courtesy: Joficina]

Does long-term mean permanent?

Long-term disability does not necessarily mean permanent disability.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines long-term disability as a condition that either prevents an individual from working for a minimum of 12 months or is anticipated to lead to death.

This means that a person can have a long-term disability that may improve or worsen over time, depending on the nature and severity of the condition.

Permanent disability, on the other hand, is a condition that has no possibility of improvement and will last for the rest of a person’s life.

A person with a permanent disability may qualify for long-term disability benefits, but not all long-term disabilities are permanent.

For example, a person who suffers a stroke may have a long-term disability that affects their speech, movement, and cognition, but they may recover some or all of their functions with rehabilitation and treatment.

A person who loses their sight due to an accident or disease may have a permanent disability that will not improve with any intervention.

How long is a long term condition?

A long term condition is a health problem that requires ongoing management over a period of years or decades.

There is no definitive list of long term conditions, as they can vary in type, severity, and impact on different people. However, some common examples of long term conditions are:

  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Arthritis
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Mental health problems
  • Neurological disorders

Long term conditions can affect anyone at any age, but they are more prevalent among older people and people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

These conditions can also affect other aspects of a person’s life, such as their education, employment, income, social relationships, and quality of life.

What are the benefits of long term disability?

Long term disability benefits aim to offer financial support to individuals experiencing an extended health condition that prevents them from working.

The amount and duration of the benefits depend on various factors, such as the type and severity of the condition, the eligibility criteria, the source of the benefits, and the individual circumstances of the claimant.

There are different types of long term disability benefits available in different countries and regions. Some examples are:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in the United States
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) in the United Kingdom
  • Canada Pension Plan Disability (CPPD) in Canada
  • Disability Support Pension (DSP) in Australia

The government or contributions from employers and employees typically fund these benefits. Private insurance policies or other sources of income might also supplement them.

Long term disability benefits can help people with long term conditions to cover their basic living expenses, such as food, housing, utilities, transportation, and medical care.

They can also help them to maintain their dignity, independence, and well-being.

However, long term disability benefits may not be enough to meet all the needs and aspirations of people with long term conditions. Therefore, it is important to seek other forms of support and assistance, such as health care services, social services, community resources, family and friends, and advocacy groups.


Long term disability is a complex and diverse phenomenon that affects millions of people around the world.

It can have significant physical, mental, emotional, social, and economic impacts on individuals and society.

Long term disability does not mean permanent disability, but it does mean a condition that lasts for at least 12 months or is expected to result in death.

Long term disability benefits can provide some financial relief to people who are unable to work due to their condition, but they may not be sufficient to meet all their needs and goals.

Therefore, it is essential to understand what long term disability means and how it can be managed and supported in different ways.

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