There's no such thing as partial disability, there's no such thing as total disability, and there's no such thing as permanent disability under the social security system. Remember the definition is, do you have a severe, medically determinable impairment, that has lasted or is expected to last at least one year? If you do have a major condition that keeps you out of work for over a year, then you may qualify for benefits for the entire period that you're out, even if that injury may not be permanent or forever. For example, if someone suffers a major injury in an accident. They fall off a roof, they break several bones, they herniate several disks in their back, but they undergo treatment for two years and eventually get to the point where they can return to work, then they may receive benefits for that two year period, because it was more than the one year minimum. However, because they returned to work, their condition wasn't necessarily permanent.