Leann- Thank you for your question. In order to qualify for SSDI (disability) you must have enough earnings to be "insured." For most adults, you must have 20 earnings credits over the past 10 years. In other words, 5 years of credits during the last 10 years.
Every year, SSA publishes a table setting out how much you must earn to gain a "credit." For example, in 2006 you needed $970 for one credit, $ 1,940 for two, $2,910 for three credits and $3,880 for four credits. You can earn only four credits in any calendar year, however, your earnings do not need to be spread out over the entire year – if you earned $3,880 all in January, 2006, you would be covered for the year. (I have included at the end of this article the credit requirements through 2013.)
So for Social Security Disability, SSA looks at your earnings over one ten year period and you need to find out two dates – the date you were first insured for SSDI and the date you were last insured for SSDI. If your disability commenced within this date range you meet the earning requirement for SSDI. Remember, this is entirely different than the earnings requirements for retirement.
I sometimes find situations where a claimant stops working but waits months or even years before filing. Sometimes, mistakenly, SSA uses the date of the application as the "onset date" instead of the date that the claimant stopped working. Sometimes this alleged onset date is outside of the person’s date that she was last insured. It is critical that the alleged onset date be within the claimant’s insured period.
In some cases, Social Security judges may find that the onset date is a later date where he or she feels that the evidence supports your claim of disability. If a judge proposes this at a hearing, I always discuss the consequences with my client before accepting the change. The date proposed by the Judge could actually preclude a person from getting any benefits at all if it falls outside the date you were last insured or it could preclude any back pay.
You have the right to appeal any decision within 60 days if you disagree with the decision including the onset date. Because these calculations can be complicated, I strongly advise that you consult with an experienced disability lawyer to discuss your options.
Earnings requirements to earn a credit for prior years are as follows:
2013 – $1,160 for one quarter, $4,640 for the year
2012 - $1,130 for one quarter, $4,520 for the year
2011 - $1,120 for one quarter, $4,480 for the year
2010 – $1,120 for one quarter, $4,480 for the year
2009 – $1,090 for one quarter, $4,360 for the year
2008 – $1,050 for one quarter, $4,200 for the year
2007 – $1,000 for one quarter, $4,000 for the year
Nelson, Bryan and Jones represents clients in the following areas: Social Security Disability, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Wrongful Death Cases, Personal Injury Actions, Defective Products, Insurance Disputes and Bad Faith, Fire Loss cases, Trucking Accidents, Worker’s Compensation, Drug Recalls, Employment Law and Property Damage Claims.
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