Nearly 9 million people receive disability benefits in the United States. Some recipients were born with a disability, while others became disabled later in life. For those with ongoing or fluctuating disabilities, there’s Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a program that provides monthly cash assistance. SSDI is a federal program run by the Social Security Administration that follows a strict set of rules regarding who can receive benefits, how much they can receive, and the requirements for receiving benefits. One rule that affects many SSDI applicants is the 5 Year Rule. 

social security disability 5 year rule

Social Security Disability 5 Year Rule

The SSDI 5 Year Rule waives the normal five-month waiting period for anyone who has received SSDI benefits within the last five years. Typically, anyone applying for SSDI must wait five months before receiving the first benefits payment. This rule makes it easier for those who work intermittently, but have to quit due to their disability. Instead of starting from scratch, the qualifying applicant can skip the usual waiting period for an expedited application. The five-year rule was implemented to encourage disabled individuals to enter the workforce whenever they’re able without the fear of losing benefits, allowing people to pursue employment when possible with the knowledge that SSDI is there when it’s needed. It speeds up the process for individuals who face disability symptoms that get better and worse over time. 

SSDI 5 Year Rule Requirements

To qualify for the 5-Year Rule, an applicant must have:

  • Received SSDI benefits within the last five years
  • Stopped receiving benefits due to starting work
  • Become unable to work again due to a disability

Individuals who fall within the five-year rule requirements must already be qualified to receive SSDI. To qualify for SSDI, one must have a disability recognized by the SSA and have a work history in a job covered by Social Security. Recognized disabilities include conditions that limit a person’s ability to work, like mental disorders, blindness, or cancer. Many conditions can fluctuate in severity, affecting a person’s ability to work consistently. The five-year rule gives the opportunity for those to receive assistance only when needed without undergoing the mandatory waiting period. 

Do I still have to reapply under the SSDI 5 Year Rule?

If you fall under the 5 Year Rule, you still need to reapply for SSDI benefits. You’ll need documentation such as medical documents, proof of citizenship, and tax documents. The rule expedites your application so you can receive benefits faster than someone applying for the first time. To ensure that you’re approved under the 5 Year Rule, consult with a lawyer who can help you with your application. Some SSDI applicants are denied, even though they’ve received benefits within five years, because of an issue with the application. 

Talk to a Social Security Disability Lawyer

Do you have questions about SSDI, such as how to apply or whether you qualify? The American Disability Action Group can answer all your questions – and more. Our lawyers have years of experience working with the Social Security Administration to fight for our clients to receive the benefits they deserve. The ADA Group is a diverse law team with the skill and experience to help you get approved for SSDI and other benefits. We’re here to help, so contact us today to schedule a free consultation.