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What is the Social Security Disability 5-year rule?

On Behalf of | Dec 27, 2023 | Social Security Disability

The Social Security Administration reported in 2022 over 509,000 disabled workers were receiving Social Security Disability benefits. Qualifying for these benefits is a complex process.

The SSA has various rules a person must meet to be eligible. It is also fairly easy to become disqualified for benefits. However, the 5-year rule can be beneficial to understand if you wish to reapply for benefits after losing them.

The 5-year rule vs. the general rule

SSD benefits come with a mandatory 5-month waiting period, ensuring that individuals establish a period of disability. However, the 5-year rule introduces a valuable exception for those who reapply for benefits within five years of their last approval. This exemption holds the potential to eliminate the waiting period, expediting access to the much-needed assistance.

How the 5-year rule works

The 5-year rule may come into play when an individual received benefits and then recovered enough to no longer qualify for them but later experienced a recurrence of the disabling condition. If the recurrence occurred within five years of the initial approval, the 5-year rule applies. It will waive the need for a new application and allow for a more immediate onset of benefits.

This provision acknowledges the unique challenges faced by individuals dealing with recurring or chronic disabilities. It aims to streamline the process and offer swifter financial relief during periods of reapplication.

It is important to note that the 5-year rule does not alter the broader eligibility criteria for SSD benefits. This rule is only to help individuals who have previously received benefits to navigate the application process more effectively and access the assistance they need without unnecessary delays.

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