If you are no longer able to work because you have developed a severe medical condition, there are important rules within the Social Security Disability program that you need to bear in mind. While you are working and Social Security taxes are being paid (FICA), you are acquiring work credits within the Social Security system. These are banked, and once you have acquired 40 calendar quarters of credits, you’re insured within the Social Security disability system (young workers need less credits). You can apply for Disability if 20 of the credits were earned during the last 10 years. However, this “insured status” only lasts for five years after you stop working.
At the time you stop working, your medical condition may not be extreme enough to enable you to meet the stringent requirements to receive Social Security disability benefits, even if you are eligible to receive NJ State Temporary Disability benefits or to receive benefits under your personal or employer’s disability policy. However, your condition may become worse, or you may develop additional disabling conditions afterwards. At the point that you are no longer to engage in any type of fulltime work due to a severe, medically documented impairment which has lasted or will last for at least 12 months, you may need to apply for Title II Social Security Disability benefits. Watch out for that 5-year deadline!!
The five-year point is called the “Date Last Insured.” If you apply later than that, you must prove that you met the SS criteria as of the Date Last Insured (DLI), not just that you meet the criteria for disability as of the time of your application. It may be quite challenging to obtain a doctor’s report confirming that at that point in the past, you had met those criteria, and it may be hard to get those older medical records.
So watch out for the 5-year deadline, save your medical records, and file your application online at www.ssa.gov in a timely way. For more information, see http://www.finkrosner.com/articles/ssi-disability-faq.html.
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