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

If you do not have a significant earnings history, can you be eligible for disability payments?

Mr. Moore, My 58 year old son is currently being prepped for colon removal (ulcerative colitis) and the recovery process followed by a 2nd surgery will take several months.

Because of his condition he has been able to do only occasional odd jobs as a carpet cleaner for the last 5 years. Consequently he does not have a significant earning history (I would guess less than $5,000/year). He has been living alone in a one room apartment in Denton, Texas, and his monthly expenses have been minimal; however he will not even be able to pay for these expenses until he has recovered from this surgery which will be performed at a charity hospital in Denton.

I've read much of the relevant information on your site, and have been unable to determine whether he will be eligible for disability payments. If possible, I would appreciate your thoughts on whether or not he should apply for disability, and if so, what is the best way to proceed? Thank You.

I would say there is a good possibility that your son could potentially qualify for disability under Social Security Disability and/or SSI disability. Social Security Disability is based upon insured status that is established by wages or self employment earnings reported to the IRS.

If your son has paid taxes on his earnings over the past five years, then he may be eligible for Social Security Disability. Even if he did not pay taxes during the past five years, he may qualify for disability benefits through SSI, a need based disability program.

Considering your son's medical condition, his age, and is work activity as a carpet cleaner over the past few years his chances of being approved for disability benefits are fairly good.

Your son should contact his local Social Security office to set up an appointment in person or by phone to apply for disability benefits. A claims representative, or CR, will complete the entire claim for him. They will evaluate what program he is eligible for and they will send it to a disability agency for a decision. No need to delay.

Note: SSA gives you the option of starting the claim online. Doing so online will not give you the chance to speak with a CR (which allows you the chance to ask questions directly, which can be valuable).

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Related pages:

If you do not have a significant earnings history, can you be eligible for disability payments?
SSI disability when you share household expenses
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If You Get Workers Comp, Will You Get Disability From Social Security?
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These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Criteria to Qualify
Who qualifies for disability? - Qualifying is based on evidence of functional limitations
Medical Disability Requirements for SSD and SSI
The non-medical Disability Requirements for SSD and SSI
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply for?
What are the Social Security Disability, SSI Requirements For How Disabled You Have to Be?
What types of information is Social Security Disability looking for?
Proving Functional Limitations and why this is Important on a Disability Case
Applying for Disability - Rules and Requirements when you Apply

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.