How to Go Back in Time

Artwork: Robin Mead

Every time you work and pay taxes, you earn works credits. All these credits add up to make you eligible for disability.

Unfortunately, sometimes work credits expire! If you wait to long to apply for disability, yours may expire. The day your work credits expire is called your “Date Last Insured.” If you are not sure if your work credits have expired, here’s how to find out your Date Last Insured.

If your credits have expired, don’t panic, you may still have options. One option is to go back in time and prove that you became disabled before your Date Last Insured. Other options can be found in the link at the bottom of this page. Here’s how you can go back in time:

🌸 It’s possible! Michelle discovered that her work credits expired three years ago, but she still got approved: Michelle Goes Back in Time

🌸 Any medical records you have now, or continue to get will be helpful in establishing that you are disabled. Submit everything you can to Social Security.

🌸 Now there is a catch: Even if they believe you are now disabled, they will still need some kind of proof that this disability started before your Date Last Insured.

🌸 In the ideal world, you will be able to find some kind of record from some time in the past that shows that your condition started at that time, it was severe at that time, and impaired your functioning at that time.

🌸 Ideally, you would like to find some kind of medical records that were created after you last stopped working. If you were working at the time that the records were created, or you went back to work later, then they may consider that you were not yet disabled. Exception: if your work was part time (earning less than SGA) then it might be possible.

🌸 We would strongly suggest that you to track down and get those records yourself and give them to Social Security. Your old records will be very important. You cannot rely on Social Security to get all your records, especially from many years ago. How to Collect All Your Medical Records (Keyword: All)

🌸 Make sure you get all treatment notes. Do not look at visit summaries or online records. Also try to get hospital visits, emergency room reports, lab tests, clinics, and anything else possible.

🌸 If you have a lawyer, please make sure to get and read each record yourself. Your lawyer can provide you copies, or you can collect them from doctor’s offices yourself. You will be able to spend much more time and care combing through your records than your lawyer will.

🌸 Once you have your records, it is great if you can look through them and see if you can find proof that you were disabled in the past. Try to look for any medical record or medical test that you believe showed you were disabled at that time. It could be more than one document.

🌸  It is especially helpful if you can find a medical test with a specific outcome, or doctor’s notes that specifically state that your symptoms impaired your ability to walk, sit, stand, lift, or function. If this is not possible, then anything you can find related to your current symptoms may be useful.

🌸 If you find something like this, you can send Social Security a brief written note requesting that they consider these records when determining your the onset date of your disability. List the name and date of the record and attach a copy. If you have a lawyer, you can work with your lawyer to do this. If not, you can do this on your own. Be sure it goes directly to the person handling your case.

🌸 If you wish, you can also attach a list of specific quotes or statements in your past records that you hope they will consider. For example, lab test outcomes, or specific sentences your doctor wrote, or dates when specific symptoms were listed. Be sure to include the name and date of the records your are quoting.

🌸 It is very common for important information to get overlooked in Social Security cases. There are often hundreds of pages of medical records, and the person who is making the decision is never going to spend as much time as you will combing through them. That is why it will help if you can point out anything important.

🌸 If you can’t find any strong records from the past, it is still possible to get approved, but may be more difficult. Just submit anything you possibly can find, and make your current records as strong as possible.

🌸 If you are still seeing the same doctor you were in the past, this can be a big help. Ask that doctor to write a letter stating their medical opinion about when you became disabled and noting that they were your treating doctor at that time.

🌸 If you are not still seeing the same doctor, you can try to track down your old doctor and see if they are willing to write you a letter.

🌸 You can also ask your current doctor to review your old records with you (warning: never hand a doctor a huge pile of papers. Bring a short summary outline or a few of the most important pages). Even if they were not your doctor at the time, your doctor can still write a letter that the symptoms noted at that time are consistent with your current disability. See Michelle’s story above. She did this and it worked!

🌸  Be prepared to be plucky! It is unlikely a lawyer will help you out here, so you may have to do to apply on your own. Don’t worry, many people apply without a lawyer. Most people who post here who their cases at the beginning did it themselves.

🌸 If you already have a lawyer, they may drop you when they realize your work credits have expired, or they may decide to continue the case. Either way, they are never going to do all the good things on this page that you can do for yourself. Once again, be plucky!

🌸  One person also arranged for their doctor to testify at their hearing. The doctor did this by phone. It was a brief phone call that did not impose on the doctor and only took 15 minutes. The doctor explained their medical opinion about when the person became disabled. It worked!

Learn More

Going back in time is not your only option. Here are some more options for How to Apply for Disability When You are Told You Can’t Apply for Disability

Robin Mead


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