What Is the Five-Year Rule for Social Security Disability?

by | May 15, 2024 | Social Security Disability |

If you’ve been disabled but now are back to work, you may be worried about whether you’ll lose your eligibility for disability benefits. Social Security’s goal is to help you return to work, but the agency has a plan for people who may need their benefits reinstated in the future.

After your disability benefits have been terminated because you returned to work, there’s a five-year period in which you can file for expedited reinstatement of your benefits. The Social Security Administration offers this option as part of its work incentives program to support individuals who want to return to work without losing the ability to collect benefits if they need them again.

Here’s a breakdown of how this rule operates and what it means for those seeking Social Security disability benefits.

When does the five-year rule come into play?

To qualify for disability benefits, individuals must have earned sufficient work credits through employment covered by Social Security. The amount of work credits required varies based on the applicant’s age and work history.

The five-year rule comes into play when your Social Security disability benefits are terminated due to work. Once your benefits stop, there is a five-year window during which you can apply for expedited reinstatement of benefits if you become unable to work again due to a disability.

What are Social Security’s work incentive programs?

Before applying for expedited reinstatement, you may go through various work incentive programs.

For example, Social Security offers a trial work period. During this period, which can last up to nine months, you can test your ability to work without impacting your benefit payments. Earnings above a certain threshold count toward the trial work period. For 2024, that threshold is $1,110 per month.

Following the trial work period, you enter an extended period of eligibility during which you can continue to receive benefits if your income remains below the substantial gainful activity (SGA) threshold. This extended period lasts for three years. For 2024, the SGA threshold is $1,550 for non-blind individuals.

What does the five-year rule allow beneficiaries to do?

If your Social Security disability benefits stop due to work, you can apply for expedited reinstatement within five years to have your benefits reinstated without going through a new application process. Expedited reinstatement allows for temporary payments while the Social Security Administration evaluates your disability status.

Expedited reinstatement applications must be submitted by mail and involve several mandatory forms.

Experienced disability attorneys in Richmond can help

The SSD application and reinstatement processes can be complex. Consulting a lawyer in Richmond, Virginia, who specializes in disability law can be beneficial.

The disability attorneys at Hunter & Everage help clients navigate the disability benefits application process and represent individuals during appeals or hearings if needed. Contact our office today to discuss how we can help you.

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