How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

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 individual’s 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 children’s 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.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

How long after court will I know anything about my disability?
How do you get your doctor to help your disability claim?
Can you get a quick disability decision?
Social Security Disability Re-evaluations
If I get disability, will they look at my case later?
How long can you receive SSI or Social Security Disability benefits?
How Long Do I Get To Keep My Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits?
What determines how long I can keep my Disability Benefits under SSD or SSI?
Does Social Security Disability Have a Time Limit?
For Social Security Disability or SSI, What Does It Mean When Your Case Gets Sent Out For Review?
How often will my disability claim be reviewed?
Do You have A Chance Of Losing Disability Benefits If Your Case Gets Reviewed?
Can You Lose Your Social Security Disability Benefits after You get Them?
Social Security Disability For Back Condition pain in California
How much can you make in California and still apply for disability?
Disability requirements and criteria in California

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

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?

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.