Social Security Disability 5-Year Rules

It can be confusing and difficult to demonstrate that you qualify for disability benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. The Social Security Administration (SSA) operates according to numerous rules, and those rules can change frequently.

One exciting change in the SSA’s policies is the implementation of the 5-Year Rule.

The Newest 5-Year Rule – Changing the Approach to Work History Requirements

Effective June 22, 2024, the SSA has implemented a new rule that reduces the amount of an applicant’s work history that will be considered when determining whether the applicant is able to support their household through gainful employment. The relevant work history period had been 15 years, but the rule change reduces that period to five years.

In order to receive either SSDI or SSI benefits, an applicant must show that they suffer from a significant disability and that because of the disabling condition, they are not able to work. When assessing whether an applicant is able to work, agency examiners consider jobs held and work skills acquired during the applicant’s “relevant” work history. By shortening that history from 15 years to five years, the agency is taking a more realistic approach to evaluating work eligibility. An applicant might have lost skills from a job held more than a decade ago, or those skills might be outdated in our fast-changing economy.  Instead of considering that an applicant might be able to go back to a job held over a dozen years ago, the SSA is now only considering work skills from the past five years, which the applicant is more likely to have retained and which are more likely to be still valuable. The new 5-year-rule makes it easier for certain applicants to qualify for benefits.

Get Help with Social Security Disability Rules

While the disability benefits available through SSDI and SSI can provide a lifeline for individuals and families, the Social Security Administration does not make it easy to obtain those benefits. In fact, the rules make it difficult to even determine whether you qualify.

At Burgess & Christensen, we focus our practice on helping individuals gain the disability benefits they deserve, so we understand all the complex rules that apply and are ready to take advantage of new opportunities when the rules change to favor those in need of assistance.

The new 5-year work history rule has the potential to help numerous applicants who were denied benefits in the past based on work experience that is now officially irrelevant.

If you would like a free evaluation of your eligibility or information about how the 5-year rule impacts your situation, contact our team today.