Social Security Disability Definitions
Social Security Disability and SSI Overview
The Requirements for Disability
Social Security Disability and SSI Applications
Tips and Advice for Disability Claims
How long does Disability take?
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Disability Denial
Disability Denials and Filing Appeals
Social Security Mental Disability Benefits
Disability Benefits offered through Social Security
Benefits through SSI disability
Disability Benefits for Children
Disability Qualifications and How to Qualify
Social Security Disability and Working
Winning your Disability Benefits
Social Security Back Pay and the disability award notice
Disability Lawyers and Hiring an Attorney
Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions
What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?
Social Security Disability SSI and Medical Evidence
Filing for Disability Benefits
Eligibility for Disability Benefits
SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
Ask a question, get an answer
How Can I Get Social Security Disability If I Have Not Worked For A Long Time?
Social Security disability is based upon an insured status that is gained through work activity. If an individual has not worked for a long time, they still may be eligible for Social Security benefits if they have not been working due to a disabling condition or conditions.
However, I think it is important to explain what makes an individual insured so that it is clear how an individual who has not worked for a long could be insured for disability.
Social Security disability insured status has two components: being fully insured and being disability insured.
An individual earns fully insured status by earning one quarter of coverage (every year Social Security determines a monetary amount of earnings that equals one quarter of coverage) for each year of their life until the year prior to becoming sixty-two.
The amount of quarters of coverage needed for fully insured status depends upon when an individual became unable to perform substantial gainful work activity (onset of disability). The least number of quarters of coverage, or work credits, an individual needs to be fully insured is six.
If an individual has fully insured status, they still have to be "disability insured" in order to be eligible for Social Security disability. To be "disability insured", an individual must have worked twenty of the last forty work quarters prior to becoming disabled. Basically, this means an individual must have worked five out of the ten years prior to becoming disabled.
There are special rules and exceptions that apply to the 20/40 rule, especially for individuals who are thirty-one years or younger. To put it more simply, an individualís age and work activity prior to becoming disabled will determine how many quarters of coverage or work credits they need have to be both fully insured and disability insured.
Therefore, if an individual has not worked in a long time but they became disabled at some point in the past when they were working, they still may be entitled to file for Social Security disability benefits even if their DLI, or date last insured (the point at which they were still covered, or insured, for Social Security disability) is in the past as well.
What if an individual simply is not insured at any point in their life but have become disabled? Social Security does have a need-based disability program for individuals, who have not worked, not worked in long time, are no longer insured for social security disability, or who are children. This program is known as Supplemental security income, or SSI.
To be eligible to receive SSI benefits, an individual or child must be found medically disabled and meet certain income and resource limits (i.e. the childrenís parents must meet the income and resource limits).
Unfortunately, if an individual is not insured for Social Security disability and they have income or resources (i.e. assets) that are above the limits of the SSI disability program, they will not be eligible for any type of disability benefits from the social security administration.
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria