There are actually two kinds of Social Security Disability. One is called Social Security Disability Insurance. The other is called Supplemental Security Income. This article deals with being "insured" under Social Security Disability Insurance.
Although there is a lot of debate about mandatory health care these days, the fact is that the federal government has required people to buy disability insurance policies through wage withholdings for several decades. This is the heart of the Social Security Disability Insurance system. Sometimes, whether an applicant is "insured" and when they are "insured" is key to proving disability, and obtaining benefits.
In order for a worker to be "insured" for disability, that person must have sufficient "quarters" of coverage over a certain period of time. For many folks, the requirement is that on the date of disability, they must have at least twenty quarters of coverage for the past forty quarters. As always, and illustration is probably helpful.
Let's assume that Joe Worker has worked solidly for ten years, and has earned enough money so that is wage withholdings are sufficient to make him insured for every quarter. Joe will have forty quarters of coverage.
To keep things simple, let's assume that Joe is seriously injured on New Year's Eve in two thousand and five. This injury is permanently disabling, Joe is unable to return to work. For every year that Joe does not work, he is going to lose four quarters of coverage. So, at the end of two thousand and six, Joe will only have thirty six quarters of coverage. Then, at the end of two thousand and seven, Joe will be left with thirty two quarters of coverage. Finally, after five full years of not working, Joe will be no longer insured the day after year five. This means that Joe was last insured for benefits on the last day of 2010.
Like many people, Joe may not want to think he is unable to work any more, and puts off the idea of applying for disability insurance with Social Security. If Joe applies in 2012, he is going to have to allege an onset date prior to the last day of 2010 because that is the date he was last insured for benefits.
In many cases, for whatever reason, a person may have been last insured several years ago, but seeks disability insurance benefits. In order for that person to qualify for benefits, they must show that their disability has been "continuous" since the date they were last insured for benefits. If a person does significant and gainful work any time after the date they were last insured, that acts as breaking the chain of continuous disability, and it may very well defeat their application.
We have represented several people who have applications for disability that involve issues of their last date insured. If you have questions about your disability insurance application, contact us at 503-325-8600. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about your application.You can also order our free book that answers many questions about the Social Security Disability application process.