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SSA said my work credits have expired?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I have been sick with Lupus for the last 15 years, but I was not diagnoses until recently. I tried to apply for SSDI but they have told me that my work credits have expired. How is this possible if I worked for 20 years before I got sick?”


Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a wage replacement program administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It is only provided to workers who have a condition which is expected to last for 12 continuous months and does not allow them to work. Workers must also have worked and paid into the Social Security Trust Fund to generate work credits to be insured for benefits.

Why would the SSA tell me I am not insured for SSDI?

You mentioned you are now disabled and you worked for twenty years prior to getting sick. If the SSA has told you that you are not insured for SSDI benefits what they are telling you is that you have not worked recently enough and your work credits have expired.

While this is confusing to many claimants, it’s really quite simple. There is a date in the future referred to as your date last insured (DLI). This is the last date that you will qualify for SSDI benefits. In general, the SSA will look back 10 years from the date the claimant’s disability application is filed and will determine if they have worked 20 of the last 40 quarters (or five of the last 10 years). Fewer credits are required for younger workers.

Can I ever get SSDI after my DLI?

If the SSA has told you that your DLI is passed and you won’t qualify for SSDI benefits, this is generally true. There are two instances, however, that may allow you to still qualify. The first is if you had the foresight to request a protective filing date prior to your DLI. The second, and much more likely, is that you can produce medical evidence that the onset of your disability is prior to your date last insured.

Unfortunately, however, even if you are able to prove your onset date occurred prior to your date last insured the SSA will still review your work history to determine if you meet the recent work requirements. Talk to the SSA if you have questions about proving that your onset date was prior to your date last insured.

What if I cannot prove my disability started prior to my DLI?

Unfortunately, if you cannot prove through valid medical evidence that your disability started before your DLI and you did not request a protective filing date, you will not qualify for SSDI benefits.

The only option at this point would be to continue to work and generate enough work credits for SSDI benefits or to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Unfortunately, SSI is only awarded to the blind, disabled, and aged who are unable to work and have VERY limited income and resources.

For this reason, many claimants will not qualify for SSI benefits.

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