When you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI), you must meet both medical and nonmedical requirements. The nonmedical requirement for SSDI is that you be currently insured, either from your own earnings or based upon the earnings of another person (as in Widows/Widowers and Disabled Adult Child Benefits). The term used to describe when you are eligible for benefits is your Date Last Insured.
Test For Date Last Insured (DLI)
Generally, your date last insured is the last point in which you met the “20/40 test.” When you pay in FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) taxes, you are in essence paying an insurance premium to the Social Security Administration. This premium is calculated as credits (sometimes referred to as “quarters”) of coverage. As of 2013, you receive one credit of coverage for every $1,160 in taxable earnings you make. The maximum credits you can receive in a year are four.
Example: John has been having worsening problems from his rheumatoid arthritis and is unable to work for large parts of the year when his RA is flaring up. Because of this, he worked off and on throughout 2012. He earned $1,000 in February, $1,000 in June and another $2,000 in December. His total earnings for the year add up to $4,000. Based upon these earnings he will receive three credits of coverage for the year.
In order to be covered, you must have at least 20 credits of coverage out of a 40 credit period. To simplify, this means you need five years of taxable earnings in a ten year period.
Exception: You Meet The Listings Of Impairment For Blindness
Unlike every other condition, if you meet the statutory definition of blindness, the 20/40 test does not apply to you. Instead, you merely need to be found to be fully insured previously (even if you work was decades before).
Exception: You Are Under 31 years Old
Because individuals in their 20s are unlikely to have even had a possible 10 years (40 credit) period of working life, the SSA applies a different test for these individuals. Basically, of the time between you turning 21 and the onset of disability, you must have paid in to at least half of the possible quarters of coverage to be within your DLI.