As a disability hearing approaches, many claimants are surprised to find out that they have to establish disability before a certain date.
Often, this date is just a few weeks or months prior to a hearing, and more often than not it’s not even an issue. But in some cases that date is years before a hearing, and it can make winning a case very difficult.
What few people understand about the disability program is that with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you are essentially purchasing an insurance policy from the federal government.
This “policy” comes out of your paycheck, and you earn one credit towards this policy for every $1,320 you make. You can earn up to four credits each year if you earn $5,280, and you typically need 40 credits to qualify for SSDI, although this varies with age. The more you pay into Social Security, the more you can potentially receive in disability benefits.
But like any insurance policy, when you stop working and paying into Social Security, the policy lapses.
The good news is that Social Security doesn’t expect you to show you’re disabled the day you stop working. Typically, the date last insured is around five years after a claimant stops working, but if you don’t file an application quickly when you are no longer able to work, the date last insured can become more of an issue in your case.
The good news is that even if you don’t qualify for SSDI, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income, a need-based program with a capped monthly benefit of $750.
However, there is an asset test for qualifying for SSI, and if you are married, your spouse’s earnings are considered in this test. It is not uncommon for many people who would receive SSI to become ineligible because their spouses are still working.
Having to establish disability within a certain time frame is one of the most challenging parts of disability law, but an experienced attorney can help guide you through the process and maximize your back benefits.