If you have a disability that prevents you from working, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
But what if you stop receiving these benefits because you try to work again, and then your disability worsens or recurs? Do you have to go through the whole application process again, waiting months or even years for a decision?
Not necessarily. There is a special rule that can help you get back on SSDI faster and easier. It’s called the Social Security Disability 5-Year Rule.
What is the Social Security Disability 5-Year Rule?
The Social Security Disability 5-Year Rule is a provision that allows people who previously received SSDI benefits and stopped collecting them to resume their benefits without a new application or medical review, as long as they meet certain conditions.
The main condition is that they must become disabled again within five years of the date their previous benefits ended. This five-year period is also known as the “re-entitlement period” or the “expedited reinstatement period”.
The purpose of this rule is to encourage people with disabilities to try to work again without losing their eligibility for SSDI.
If they find out that they cannot work because of their disability, they can quickly get back on SSDI without having to prove their disability all over again.
How does the Social Security Disability 5-Year Rule work?
If you want to use the Social Security Disability 5-Year Rule to resume your SSDI benefits, you need to follow these steps:
- Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) and request expedited reinstatement of your benefits. You can do this by phone, online, or in person at your local SSA office .
- Fill out a short form that asks about your current disability, work history, and income. You do not need to submit any medical evidence or undergo a new medical exam.
- If the SSA determines that you are still disabled and that your current disability is the same as or related to the one that qualified you for SSDI before, you will be eligible for provisional benefits. These are temporary payments that you will receive for up to six months while the SSA makes a final decision on your case.
- If the SSA approves your expedited reinstatement, you will continue to receive your SSDI benefits as before. You will also be eligible for Medicare after a 24-month waiting period from the date of your reinstatement.
- If the SSA denies your expedited reinstatement, you will have to stop receiving provisional benefits. You can appeal the decision or file a new application for SSDI. You may also have to pay back some or all of the provisional benefits you received.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Social Security Disability 5-Year Rule?
The Social Security Disability 5-Year Rule has several advantages and disadvantages that you should consider before using it. Here are some of them:
- You can get back on SSDI faster and easier than applying for a new claim.
- You do not have to submit any new medical evidence or undergo a new medical exam.
- You can receive provisional benefits for up to six months while waiting for a final decision.
- You can keep your original date of entitlement and benefit amount.
- You can qualify for Medicare after a 24-month waiting period from the date of your reinstatement.
- You must become disabled again within five years of the date your previous benefits ended.
- You must have a current disability that is the same as or related to the one that qualified you for SSDI before.
- You may have to pay back some or all of the provisional benefits you received if your expedited reinstatement is denied.
- You may lose some work credits that could affect your future retirement benefits.
The Social Security Disability 5-Year Rule is a helpful option for people who previously received SSDI benefits and want to resume them without going through a new application process.
However, it also has some limitations and risks that you should be aware of.
If you are thinking about using this rule, make sure you understand how it works and what it means for your situation.
You can also consult with a disability lawyer or advocate who can guide you through the process and protect your rights.
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