Not only do you need to be disabled to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, but you must also have an established history of work.
In fact, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA), you need a specific number of “work credits” to be eligible for SSD benefits. While the maximum number of credits you can typically earn in any given work year is four, the older you are, the more work credits you will need.
For instance, a disabled individual under the age of 24 may only need six credits in the 3-year period leading up to his or her disability to be eligible. Conversely, someone over the age of 62 may need as many as 40 credits, with 20 credits being required in the 10-year period immediately before the disability.
However, for a large chuck of the working population — those aged 31 through 42 — 20 credits are needed during the 10 years leading up to the disability, meaning you were working at least five out of those 10 years.
Not eligible? Other options may be available.
Even if you do not have a work history, and therefore are not eligible for SSD benefits, you may still have another option you can pursue — namely, Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Specifically, SSI pays monthly benefits to those who are 65-years-old or older, are blind or disabled, and have limited income and resources. Importantly, there is no work history requirement for SSI.
Regardless of whether you are applying for SSI or SSD benefits, you need to speak with an experienced disability attorney — one who can help you seek the benefits you deserve.