Gaithersburg: 301-670-7030
Baltimore: 410-769-5400
Frederick: 301-668-2100
Contact Us For Legal Help

Social Security Disability Blog

Have I Worked Enough To Qualify For Social Security Disability Benefits?

Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Have I Worked Enough To Qualify For Social Security Disability Benefits?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) implements two separate programs that provide cash benefits to disabled individuals. The primary focus of this blog is on Disability Benefits (aka “Disability Insurance,” “DI,” “RSDI,” and “Title II benefits”). The other type of benefit is called Supplemental Security Income, “SSI” or “Title XVI benefits.”

Both programs use the same definition of disability and identical rules and regulations to determine disability. (See 5 Step Disability Evaluation Process) SSI benefits are less money per month and, most importantly, means tested. Thus a claimant must meet certain income and resource qualifications tobe eligible for these benefits — besidesproving disability. Disability benefits, on the other hand, have no means testing. Your current income or resourceshave no bearing on your eligibility. In addition to the absence of means testing, disability benefits are more desirable as they are typically more money per month and include health insurance coverage through Medicare.

Insured Status

Disability benefits, however, are only paid to those who become disabled while they are “insured.” The social security disability system is designed to function like insurance. To be covered, premiums must be paid. For social security disability, the premiums are the social security taxes taken out of your paycheck while working. To be insured under the disability benefits program, the disabled individual must have worked 20 of the last 40 quarters (i.e., payed premiums for 20 of the last 40 quarters). For those who worked consistently (without gaps) this means that they must prove disability within 5 years from when they stopped working.

In every claim for social security disability benefits, SSA calculates the “date last insured” or DLI. This is the last date that the claimant met the insured status based upon their quarters of work. The claimant must prove disability before that date.

Application Date versus Onset Date

Please note that there is no requirement that the application for benefits be filed before the DLI. The application can be filed well after the DLI. However, the claimant will need to prove that the disability began before the DLI. In the application, the claimant is asked for the date when they became unable to work. This is called the “onset date.” So long as the onset date is before the DLI, the claimant is insured and thus eligible for disability benefits.

Applications filed well after the DLI are notoriously difficult to win, however, as the evidence to support the disability is often hard to find. Medical providers routinely destroy older records. Doctors who treated the claimant before the DLI have retired or died. Finally, current medical providers may not be able (or willing) to provide evidence to support an onset date at some point in the past before they began treating the claimant.

By David Galinis


What Our Clients Say

Known for our unwavering commitment to clients, for our integrity, and for delivering the best results, our clients continue to refer their friends, families and neighbors to us for their legal needs.

"One year ago today I made the call to your office. The best decision I could make. I wanted to share with you how impressed I am with your staff and your professionalism."

Heather P.

"Craig did a great job representing me! He's the lawyer I have trusted with my legal needs because he's professional, knowledgeable, and keeps me informed about my case."

Jaclyn K.

" wanted to thank you, in writing, for your kindness and prompt response. Customer service is a dying art, and you gave me hope for my family."


"I would like to express my gratitude for your efforts and dedication for my disability case. It's has been quite a long and upsetting process but you have handled my case in an extremely competent and responsible manner."

Leo H.

"I have recommended Mr. Feldman to several of my friends and colleagues and have heard nothing but excellent reviews. He is the best lawyer I have ever used."


"I received the check today. I could not believe it until I saw the check. Thank you so much. You have improved my family's quality of life tenfold."

Mike F.

"These guys go above and beyond! They always have your best interest in mind."

Mike W.

"I would like to express my thanks to Amanda Knott and Gretchen Rogers for their patience with me through my ordeal with my workers comp claim. I was impressed from the very beginning when I spoke with G. Rogers on the phone and although she did not have to, she met with me personally and walked me through the steps of what to expect in this process."

Mr Sagal

"You have been kind throughout this process and I appreciate your professionalism as well as your gentle concern. Thanks for helping us and all the others who need your legal expertise. We are grateful."

Nancy F.

"Thanks to Mr. Shultz's aggressive and professional work ethic style I was able to receive the medical services and compensation pertaining to my case."

Navdeep C.

"I can honestly say this firm is simply TOP NOTCH! They not only have handled countless cases for my members that require their services, they also have gone well beyond their "scope" to help some of my folks in other areas of need. "

Rick H.

"I wanted to compliment your law firm on having Amanda Knott as a paralegal. She worked tirelessly for almost 2 years making sure I understood what was happening and at the same time keeping all my records straight and in order, which allowed Gretchen Rogers to represent me in the best way possibl"

Terrye G

"The attention and professional care the staff has taken toward my needs has always been excellent. I have no complaints nor worries that my issues discussed are not addressed."

Tim T.

"I just got off the phone with Craig and let him know how thankful we are to you, him and Ken for all your efforts – you are all really terrific to work with!"

Val K.

Locations Throughout Maryland & Washington DC

Gaithersburg Office

481 N. Frederick Avenue, Suite 300
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
301-670-7030 / 800-248-3352
Fax: 301-670-9492

Lutherville Office

1301 York Road, Suite 600
Lutherville, MD 21093
410-769-5400 / 800-248-3352
Fax: 410-769-9200

Frederick Office

30 W. Patrick Street, Suite 105
Frederick, MD 21701
301-668-2100 / 800-827-2667
Fax: 301-668-2000