Some people, when they apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, are surprised to find that they cannot qualify for disability benefits because their disability arose after their “date last insured”.  This means that the time period available to them to qualify for these benefits expired after they stopped working but before the disability began. 

Social Security is, in this respect, no different from privately owned insurance.  You need to pay into Social Security in order to obtain disability  insurance coverage.  You pay for your insurance coverage and at some point in time after you stop paying, your coverage ends.   Your “premiums,” in this case, are your payroll taxes and the coverage is disability insurance. 

As an example, Barbara is 50 years old and has worked since she was 18.  However, From 1990 through 1996 she only worked sporadically, and part-time, so she could stay home with her young children.  Her social security payroll taxes were minimal during this time period. She  has an injury to her shoulder in 1996.   As this injury occurred “on the job” she receives worker’s compensation benefits and is out of work for several years.  She is able to work after this time, but does not choose to do so.  In 2002, 2 years after he worker’s compensation case is settled, she is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.  In 2003,  she applies for social security disability benefits, based upon her symptoms from Parkinson’s Disease.  Unfortunately, she finds out her “date last insured” was December 1, 2001.  That is, because her contributions to social security were minimal during the years she stayed home with her children, and were non-existent during the years she was out-of-work with her shoulder injury, her social security disability coverage ended on December 1, 2001.  She cannot collect disability benefits for a disability, no matter how severe, that arose after this date.

Before you apply for social security benefits, you can find out your “date last insured.”  You can do this online or by speaking with a representative at your local social security office. 

You may still qualify for SSI, Supplemental Security Income, even if your disability began after your date last insured.  However, SSI is a poverty program for disabled, individuals or persons over 65 years of age, with a limited income.   If you are disabled, in addition to proving your disability,  you will need to prove that your income, and the income in your household, falls below a certain level, in order to qualify for this benefit.