One of the issues many Social Security disability attorneys see over and over again is people who have waited too long to file for their disability benefits and are no longer insured.
Here are some issues to consider if you've become disabled to the point of being unable to work:
1. Your SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) benefits do not last forever after you have stopped working.
In fact, they expire in just a few short years after your last day of employment. Most people who need disability (those 31 years old and older) fall under the "Recent Work Test," and must have worked 5 out of the last 10 years. They must have also worked a required number of years to sustain eligibility as well; but what is most important here is, a person not wait too long to file or there could be a loss of insurability.
2. The longer you wait to file for Social Security disability benefits after a disabling condition has occurred, the harder it becomes to prove you are still disabled.
Most claims examiners will only go back about two to three years to review medical records. Many people have a disabling condition that occurred years before, but still try and work. Sometimes, if the records are too old for Social Security to consider as relevant, it may be hard to convince the claims examiner there is still a viable disabling condition. Hence, the longer you wait, the harder it is to prove you are disabled.
3. You may actually be disabled for a period of time and after recovering, you are able to return back to work.
If you failed to file during your time of disability, you will have to go through a "closed period" determination. Why it is important to file during the time of your disability is because once you start working again, it is harder to prove that at some point in the past you were actually disabled. Many times, you may have to go to the hearing level to explain to an Administrative Law Judge the restrictions you had which caused you to be unable to work.
One of the reasons you may have to do so, is because you would likely be working full time again and Social Security would classify you under a technical denial for doing so. That leaves you with the only alternative of appealing to the hearing level, which often takes a year or more before your case can be heard.
4. If you can no longer qualify for SSDI (for example, your disability benefits have expired) you may have trouble qualifying for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) as well.
Which means you are not entitled to any benefits.
In order to qualify for SSI benefits, you are not allowed to make over a certain amount each month and you cannot have many assets (cash, retirement accounts, etc.).
Here is the usual scenario:
A 45-year old woman, who is actually disabled, waits 7 years after the last day she worked to file for disability benefits. She is no longer insured for SSDI benefits because they have expired, but because her husband works full time, she is not able to file for SSI benefits either. Thus, she is out of luck, and if she had just filed sooner, then she could have qualified for disability benefits, regardless of whether or not her husband worked.