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Tracey's Tips

Stay At Home Moms/Dads - Earn $5,040 To Secure SSA Disability Eligibility

As an attorney who works with a disabled clientele, I am writing to urge all of you who are healthy to work, at least part-time.

Why? While there are many benefits to working, the reason I am encouraging you to work is to ensure that you will be eligible for Social Security Title II benefits if there is a substantial period of disability in your future.

What are the potential Social Security Disability benefits?

1. A monthly income,

2. Medicare eligibility after 24 months, and

3. In many cases, additional monthly income for your dependents.

The amount you receive may not be enough to live on, but it can prove helpful.

How does it work?

You work, pay taxes on your earnings and you receive credits with Social Security. To be considered eligible for disability benefits (as opposed to retirement benefits), you must have a certain number of “active” credits – meaning earned within 5-10 years of becoming disabled .

The exact number of credits needed to be eligible for disability benefits depends on your age. A younger person needs far fewer years/active credits than an older person. For exact numbers see,

Since these credits do expire, to remain current or to reacquire insured status, you need to continue to earn credits. The maximum number of credits that can be earned in a year is four (4). In 2016, for every $1,260 you earn and pay taxes on, you receive one (1) credit; once you’ve earned $5,040 in 2016, you will have hit that year’s maximum number of credits.

Just remember - You must report your income and pay taxes to get the credits! If you have earned sufficient credits, your application for Title II disability benefits can be considered by the Social Security Administration. Without “enough” recent work, Social Security will find that your date last insured has passed.

Date Last Insured - Is it important?

The date last insured is critical. If you cannot prove that your medical condition has been substantially disabling, since before your date last insured, you will not be eligible for Title II Social Security Disability benefits, even if you are now obviously disabled. The situation is akin to dropping your fire insurance just before your house goes up in flames. There is no doubt of three things: 1. if you had fire insurance, you would get a check; 2. you no longer have fire insurance; and 3. you will not get a check.


Janet last worked in 1999. She was 30 at the time, and had been working for 12 years. She had just gotten married, and her husband made a good income. The couple decided that she had “worked” enough. In 2006, Janet started to feel unwell. She started dragging her right foot, her hands were cramping up and she felt tired all the time. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This went on for several years, and Janet continued to decline. She finally filed for Social Security disability benefits in 2011.

Is Janet eligible for the Title II benefits?

Short Answer: No. Janet will likely receive a letter from Social Security stating that her date last insured was in December of 2004, and there is nothing to support that she was disabled from working since before that date.

Q: So what should Janet have done to keep her Social Security Disability Insurance from expiring?

A: She should have continued to work, at least part-time.

Q: Since Janet’s husband makes a nice income, and can provide medical insurance for her, does it really matter that she cannot get disability benefits?

A: I assert that it does. Financial independence is always preferable. While Social Security benefits are not overly generous, they help. And, then there are the “what ifs”:

• What if Janet’s husband loses his job, and with that, loses the critical medical insurance she absolutely needs?;

• What if their financial situation changes for any number of other reasons?

• What if they get divorced?

Janet and her husband need to protect themselves. So do you. Therefore, while you are healthy, do your future self a favor, and find some work that you can do, pay your federal income tax obligation and earn some Social Security credits.

Submitted by: Tracey Cahn, Esq.

Tracey Cahn and Risa Rohrberger are the founders of Cahn & Rohrberger, LLC, a law firm focusing on the issues of Social Security, Veterans and Private Insurance Claimants. All initial consultations are free, and we welcome questions.

Tel: 201/932-1972

Fax: 201/932-1973

(c) 2015 Cahn & Rohrberger LLC. All rights reserved. Attorney advertising. This document is distributed for informational use only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be used as such. Updated March 30, 2016.

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