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What is the 5-year rule for Social Security Disability benefits?

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2023 | Social Security Disability |

Social Security Disability serves to provide financial assistance to individuals unable to work due to a qualifying disability. Currently, the Social Security Administration reports that it helps over 4.5 million Texans with this program.

However, to prevent waste and abuse, the SSA has a robust list of eligibility requirements. In two separate instances, the SSA has important 5-year rules.

The work history 5-year rule

The 5-year rule can refer to whether one’s work history qualifies them for disability benefits. To be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance, a person must earn enough work credits. These work credits accrue by income amount and the number of years the individual worked.

Typically, an applicant needs 40 credits, and 20 of those must have come within the last 10 years before the disability. However, the 5-year rule stipulates that a person must have done some work and earned credit within the previous five years before applying for SSDI.

Applicants should understand that this rule does not mean waiting five years to apply for benefits. When an individual meets the work credit requirements and has a qualifying disability preventing substantial work, that person could be eligible.

The 5-year rule for resuming benefits

The SSA sets other criteria for SSDI applicants involving applying before full retirement age and having a qualifying mental or physical disability. Usually, an applicant must have the disability for five consecutive months before receiving benefits. However, if eligibility stems from an earlier onset of the disability, the individual can qualify for retroactive payments for up to the previous 12 months.

Additionally, the SSDI waives the standard 5-month waiting period for those who received benefits within the past five years. This is the second 5-year rule, which allows a swift resumption of benefits.

By carefully reviewing the rules of SSDI, an applicant may avoid unnecessary delays or a rejected application.