BASIC (06-06)

DI 10105.035 Length of Freeze Period

A. Beginning date

The beginning date for a period of disability is the first day within the effective period of the application (See GN 00204.030B.4.) on which the number holder (NH) had freeze insured status and was under a disability. For applications filed between 7/2/62 and 12/1/64, the first day of the freeze period could be no earlier than 18 months before the date of filing. The 1964 amendments removed this limitation. Individuals who had filed during that period and whose freeze applications had been denied solely because of the 18 month restriction, or whose period of disability could have begun earlier but for the restriction, were permitted to establish a freeze beginning more than 18 months before the date of his/her application if his/her disability had continued until 12/1/64, or if earlier, age 65.

B. Ending date

A freeze ends (i.e., the ending date for a period of disability) on the earliest of the three following dates:

  • The last day of the month before the month the NH dies;

  • The last day of the month preceding the month in which the NH attains full retirement age (FRA); or

  • The last day of the second month after the month in which disability ceases. (See DI 10105.035C.).

If cessation of disability or attainment of FRA occurred before 10 /60, the freeze ended on the last day of the month in which the earlier of these events occurred.

NOTE: In determining when disability ceases, the trial work period (TWP) provision does not apply to freeze only cases. (See DI 13010.035.)

C. Extended ending date-1980 and 1987 amendments

In addition to the three possible ending dates for the freeze period shown in DI 10105.035B., amendments to the Social Security Act provide an extended period of eligibility (EPE) (see DI 13010.210, Extended Period of Eligibility — Overview) which, consequently, extends the ending date of the freeze. Based on these amendments, if disability ceases December 1, 1980 or later, the freeze may also end with the month preceding the first month the beneficiary engages in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) after the EPE. The EPE begins the month immediately following completion of the 9-month TWP.

EPE was affected by the 1980 and 1987 Amendments as follows:

  • 1980 Amendments: The EPE provisions in effect from 12/01/1980 through 12/21/1987 provided for a 15-month re-entitlement period. A re-entitlement period cannot begin before 12/1980, even if the TWP ended before 12/1980. Therefore, the earliest 15-month EPE re-entitlement period is from 12/1980 through 02/1982.

  • 1987 Amendments: The EPE re-entitlement period was extended to 36-months effective 01/1988. The 36-month re-entitlement period applies if a beneficiary is entitled to a disability benefit as of 01/1988 or later and did not complete a 15-month EPE prior to 01/01/1988.

If there is continuous payment of benefits through the end of the extended (15 or 36-month) period because the beneficiary has not engaged in SGA, disability ceases the first month of SGA after the EPE (15 or 36-month) period. (DI 13010.210).

If there is not continuous payment of benefits (i.e., benefits are suspended) because of SGA for any month during the (15 or 36-month) EPE following the 9-month TWP, and benefits are continually not payable through the close of the (15 or 36-month) EPE period, the period of disability (i.e., the freeze) ends with the month preceding the first month of continuous nonpayment. (See DI 13010.210.)

NOTE: If the claimant is not engaging in SGA when the EPE re-entitlement period ends, the EPE provision allows benefits to continue until SGA is performed or a medical cessation is determined. (See DI 13010.210A.)

EXAMPLE #1

15-month EPE - No SGA during entire EPE; SGA begins after EPE

9-month TWP: 02/85-10/85

15-month EPE: 11/85-01/87 (no SGA)

First month claimant engaged in SGA: 11/87 and continuing

Disability ceased: 11/87

Grace period: 11/87-01/88 (the month of disability cessation and the two succeeding months - See DI 13010.210E.2.). The claimant is paid benefits for the grace period.

Period of disability (i.e., the freeze) ends: 01/88 (the last day of the second month after the month in which disability ceases.) January 1988 is the last month disability benefits are payable.

Benefit termination month (BTM): 02/88

EXAMPLE #2

36-month EPE – SGA begins several months after EPE starts, and SGA continues through the close of the EPE

9-month TWP: 01/94-09/94

36-month EPE: 10/94-09/97

Claimant does not engage in SGA: 10/94-05/96 (benefits are paid)

Claimant engages in SGA: 06/96-09/97 (see “Grace Period” below for payment months)

Disability ceases: 06/96

Grace Period: 06/96-08/96 (the month of disability cessation and the two succeeding months - See DI 13010.210E.2.). The claimant is paid benefits for the grace period and benefits are not paid (suspended) beginning 09/96. Benefits are not payable for any SGA month during the EPE except the disability cessation month and the following 2 months.

Period of disability (i.e., the freeze) ends: 08/96 (the month preceding the first month of continuous nonpayment). August 1996 is the last month for which disability benefits are payable)

Benefit termination month (BTM): 10/97

EXAMPLE #3

36-month EPE – Periodic SGA months during EPE; SGA continues after EPE

02/00 - 10/00 – Claimant’s TWP

  • 11/00 – (1st month of EPE.) EPE begins the month immediately following completion of the TWP. In this example, the claimant’s earnings remain below SGA through 04/02.

  • 05/02 (19th month of EPE) – Claimant’s earnings equal or exceed the SGA limit. Therefore, this is the month disability ceases (The claimant demonstrates the ability to engage in SGA. See DI 10105.010.). The claimant is paid benefits for the grace period (i.e., the month of disability cessation and the two succeeding months. See DI 13010.210E.2.) Benefits are not payable for any SGA month during the EPE except the disability cessation month and the following 2 months.

  • 06/02-07/02 (20th and 21st months of EPE) – Claimant’s earning continue to equal or exceed SGA limits. These months complete the grace period. Therefore, benefits are payable for these months.

  • 08/02-10/02 (22nd -24th month of EPE) – Claimant’s earning continue to equal or exceed SGA limits. The claimant’s benefits are not paid (benefits suspended) for these months due to SGA.

  • 11/02 (25th month of EPE) – Claimant’s earnings are below the SGA limit. Benefits are paid for this month. (Benefits are payable for any non-SGA month preceding the BTM.)

  • 12/02-10/03 (26th month through 36th month of EPE) – Claimant’s earnings equal or exceed SGA limits. Benefits are not paid (benefits suspended) for these months due to SGA.

  • 37th month (11/03) - Claimant still earning SGA. Claimant’s benefits are terminated.

EXAMPLE #4

36-month EPE - Earnings below SGA during entire EPE and continuing

Same scenario as Example #3, but the claimant’s earnings are below SGA for the entire EPE period (11/00-10/03) and continue to be below SGA 11/03 and continuing. Since the claimant is not engaging in SGA when the EPE period ends, the EPE provision allows benefits to continue until SGA is performed or medical cessation is determined. (See DI 13010.210A.) The claimant’s disability will cease effective with the first month earnings equal or exceed the SGA limit. (The grace period is the month disability ceases and the two succeeding months. The claimant is paid benefits for the grace period. See DI 13010.210E.2.)

EXAMPLE #5

36-month EPE - SGA during entire EPE and continuing

Same scenario as Example #3, but the claimant’s earnings equal or exceed SGA for all months in the EPE (11/00-10/03) and remain at or above SGA 11/03 and continuing. Therefore, the claimant’s disability ceases 11/00 (i.e., the first month earnings equal or exceed the SGA limit). The claimant’s grace period is 11/00-01/01 (the month of disability cessation and the two succeeding months). Benefits are paid for the grace period. Benefits are not paid (benefits suspended) for 02/01-10/03 and benefits are terminated 11/03.

D. Length of freeze for statutorily blind NH

An individual who meets the statutory definition of blindness meets the disability requirement for purposes of the freeze regardless of ability to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). Such blindness alone does not necessarily constitute disability for benefit payment purposes. To be eligible for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), blind persons under age 55, like those with other impairments, must be unable to engage in any SGA. If the statutory blind NH engages in SGA, DIB will terminate, and the freeze will continue if the blindness continues to meet the statutory definition of blindness. (See DI 10105.065.)


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DI 10105.035 - Length of Freeze Period - 02/12/2013
Batch run: 02/12/2013
Rev:02/12/2013