Can You Qualify for Disability if you did not work much?

Yes, you may qualify for disability benefits if you have not worked much. Of course, if you have not worked at all, or have worked very little, or have not been employed for quite some time, you may not be insured for Social Security Disability. If this is the case, you may qualify for title 16 Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is a need-based program that requires no insured status, as it is based strictly upon need.

Social Security actually has two disability programs, Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income. Social Security Disability, also known as title II DIB (disability insurance benefits) depends on your insured status. Insured status is acquired through your earnings each year. What do I mean by this? Your insured status, i.e. eligibility to receive social security retirement or Social Security Disability, is acquired through quarters of coverage, which are based upon your earnings each year.

SSI disability benefits provide coverage for minor-age children and adults who have lost their insured status for Social Security Disability. It also provides supplemental income for those who are eligible to receive Social Security Disability, but would only receive a small monthly benefit check.

Although SSI does not require that you be insured, it does require certain income and resource levels. In other words, to qualify for disability under the SSI program, you cannot be working and earning more than what is considered a substantial gainful income. You also cannot have more than two thousand dollars in assets.

Individuals who qualify for Social Security Disability do not have an asset limitation. However, to be eligible for SSD (and SSI), you cannot be working and earning a substantial and gainful income.

To qualify for disability benefits in either program, you must satisfy the social security administration definition of disability which states that your condition must be severe, have lasted (or be projected to last) a full year, and must prevent you from being able to work and earn a substantial and gainful income.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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