Five Years Without Work: No Disability Benefit Eligibility!

It’s a little-known fact: When one leaves the workforce for more than five years — no matter how long they’ve paid into the system — Social Security Disability benefits evaporate. Simply put, the money you paid into the system is gone, returned to the “pool” for others to use. (It is locked there until you reach retirement age.)

What I have learned, what many people have been shocked to learn, is that the money one pays into Social Security Disability does not remain for all time. There is what is called a “recent work test.” To pass this test, you must have worked 20 of the last 40 quarters, which is, more simply stated, five of the past ten years. It doesn’t matter that you worked for 20 years and paid into the Social Security Disability System. In fact, it doesn’t matter if you’ve worked your whole life and then stopped. Your Date Last Insured or DLI depends on the date you stopped working (at a job that pays into the Social Security system through FICA taxes).