The Social Security disability system is similar to private insurance a person would pay into for coverage (for his or her home, auto, health, or life insurance). If you don't pay your premiums, then your coverage lapses, and you are no longer insured.
The same can be said about the disability system the Social Security Administration provides to Americans. As one continues to work, taxes from your paycheck (or taxes you pay quarterly or at the end of the year for those self-employed) help pay the premiums for one's disability insurance coverage. As you continue to pay into the "system," the more years of coverage you accumulate in the case you become disabled and are unable to work.
So, what's the problem with this?
The problem, besides the fact that everyone complains everyone is always being denied, is that if you stop working for long enough, you will definitely lose your coverage.
This gets very complicated, but suffice it to say: (1) you have to earn above a certain amount each quarter in order to receive credit, (2) you have to work long enough, depending upon your age to continue to receive coverage, and (3) your work had to be recent enough in time not to lose coverage.
So, how do you know if you have enough work credits to file for Social Security disability? The answer is, you have to see a print out of your quarters of coverage to make a determination.
But, in layman's terms, let's discuss what you really need to know in order to make sure you're covered in the case you are no longer able to work.
If you become disabled, you need to file for Social Security disability within 5 years of the last time you worked, if you're over the age of 31. If you wait for more than 5 years, then you are going to have to allege you became disabled before the end of this time. Social Security will allow you to go back to the time before you lost coverage, but you are also going to need to have sufficient medical records to show you were disabled before your coverage lapsed. If you cannot, then as far as SSDI is concerned, then you will likely not have enough work credits to qualify.
For those of you reading this and need the technical aspects discussed further, here they are:
If you are 31 or older, then you will have to have worked at least 5 out of the last 10 years immediately prior to filing for disability. If you are between 24 and 31, you will have to have worked at least 1/2 of the time since turning 21. If you are under 24, you must have worked at least 1 & 1/2 years in the three years before turning 21. If you are blind, then there is an exception to these rules.
Bottom line, if you become disabled, make sure you file as soon as possible.
We help Claimants throughout Texas and California fighting for their Social Security disability benefits. If you need help, please always feel free to contact our office at: (888) 780-9125.