What Is the 5-Year Rule for Social Security Disability?
What is the Social Security disability 5-year rule? This little-known rule has big ramifications for people applying for SSDI benefits.
Keep reading to learn about the 5-year rule about how it might apply to your SSDI claim!
The Social Security Disability 5-Year Rule
Before we explain what the 5-year rule is, you have to understand how you qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
How Social Security Disability Works
Social Security disability benefits are offered to workers who are totally unable to work because of a disability.
To qualify, you need to meet certain requirements for your medical condition and your work history:
- You must have a medically determinable condition resulting in disability. This means you have an injury or illness that is diagnosed by your doctor and is expected to last at least 12 months or is terminal.
- Your condition must prevent you from working in your previous job or any job paying $1,170 per month.
- You must have worked long enough, and recently enough, in jobs covered by Social Security. (The SSA requires a certain number of work credits based on your age.)
To prove that you qualify, you need to gather evidence like your medical records, tax records, pay stubs, and more for your claim.
After you submit your claim, it’s then reviewed by the Social Security Administration. It can take months—even a year—to be approved for SSDI benefits. (This is why we say you shouldn’t wait to file for Social Security disability.) Claims that are initially denied and require an appeal take even longer.
When your claim is approved, you can start receiving benefits. Benefits begin the first day of the sixth month after you applied. If it took longer than six months to approve your claim, you can receive back pay.
So what does the application process have to do with the 5-year rule?
The 5-Year Rule
The 5-year rule eliminates that 5-month waiting period to receive benefits, if you are re-applying for Social Security Disability within 5 years of previously receiving them.
Essentially, if you received SSDI benefits within the last five years, stopped receiving them, and then find that you need them again, you can get benefits faster.
There is one exception to this rule: you can’t receive benefits if drug addiction or alcoholism is a contributing factor to your disability, and your earlier entitlement to disability ended after you received benefits for 3 years, during which treatment was available. If you’re found to have been eligible for benefits earlier due to disability onset, you can get retroactive payments for up to the previous 12 months.
The 5-year rule is especially beneficial for people whose disability gets better or worse over time, or people whose disability returns even after treatment (such as a cancer returning after remission). This rule gets people who depend on SSDI benefits what they need more quickly.
How to Re-apply for Social Security Disability
The re-application process for Social Security disability is much the same as the application process. As we mentioned above, the difference lies in the lack of waiting period if you re-apply within 5 years.
If you have questions or concerns about your new application, we recommend taking a look at our posts (below) or talking to a knowledgeable Social Security disability attorney at Casper & Casper.
Learn More about Social Security Disability
If you have more questions, we’ve got answers! The Social Security disability process can be complex and confusing. To help clear up confusion and help people like you, we have a number of posts addressing common questions. Here are just a few of the topics we’ve covered:
- SSDI and Work Requirements: Here’s What You Need to Know
- Does My Disability Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?
- Are Social Security Disability Benefits Taxable?
- What Can Cause You to Lose Your Social Security Benefits?
- 5 Social Security Disability Myths, Busted
- 6 Tips to Make the SSDI Process Easier
Need to Talk to a Social Security Disability Lawyer?
Casper & Casper is here for you.
Our Social Security disability lawyers are happy to answer your questions, explain your options, and help you navigate the complex SSDI process. Whether you have questions about SSDI, need help applying for benefits, or need to appeal your claim’s decision, we can help.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.