When one files for Social Security Disability, one must be insured. This means you have to have paid into the system. However, if you stop working, Social Security does not give you an indefinite time to file for disability. For a fully employed person who stops working due to a disability, Social Security only gives one five (5) years to prove disability.
The Five Year Window
The Five Year Window
The five year period means if you are no longer paying into the system you must prove you are disabled under Social Security Rules prior to the expiration of the five years in order to be eligible for Social Security Disability. If your disability occurs after the expiration of the five year period, it would be too late to obtain disability benefits.
Potential Problems if Your Last Insured Date has Expired
If your last insured date has already expired when you apply for Social Security Disability, this can present an insurmountable problem in your case. For example, if you apply in 2011 and your last insured date expired in 2009, you would have to prove you were disabled in 2009 in order to be eligible for benefits. As a Social Security practitioner in Richmond, Virginia I have done thousands of cases. The last insured date cases can be the most difficult. Often, it requires one to ask a doctor to make a retroactive analysis of the claimant's medical records and then give a retroactive opinion about the person's disability status before the doctor had even examined the patient. Many judges reject these type of opinions.
File Right Away When You Are Disabled
The moral of the story is if your disability takes you out of work, you should file immediately for Disability. This not only prevents potential issues with the last insured date, but also makes sense to help get benefit payments sooner. Social Security Disability cases often drag on for many months or even more than a year, so it's best to file as soon as you've become disabled and unable to work.
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Retroactive Proof of Disability is very difficult.
The expiration of your last insured date (LID) is a problem. It means in order to get disability you must prove disability before this expiration. Judges do not like retroactive medical opinions. The best advice is file before the expiration date.