If I have never worked outside my home or have worked very little; can I get Social Security Disability benefits?

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Learn how people who haven’t worked outside their homes or haven’t worked recently may get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability instead of or in addition to Social Security.

Work Credits Requirements for Social Security Disability Benefits

If you are disabled but you have never worked outside your home or you have worked little, you may not be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits on your own earnings record because you may not have enough work credits to be fully insured. Even if you worked for several years, if you have not worked enough recently before the disability began, you may not be currently insured.

For a information about becoming insured for Social Security Disability, please visit our article How many Social Security-covered Work Credits Do I Need to Get Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits?

Disabled Dependent and Survivor Benefits

If you are not insured and you are age fifty or older and are a surviving spouse or surviving divorced spouse of a deceased, insured worker, you may be eligible for survivors benefits on your deceased spouse’s or former spouse’s earnings record. If your parent is either deceased or receiving Social Security Disability or Retirement benefits and you are unmarried, and you have been continuously disabled since before age twenty-two, you might qualify for childhood disability benefits (CDB). More information about these benefits, which do not require you to have quarters of coverage work credits, is available in our article How Can I Get Disability Benefits from My Relative’s Social Security Record?

No Work Credits Required for SSI Disability Payments

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal, needs-based, public assistance program. Benefits are payable to individuals with limited income and resources who are disabled, including disabled minor children, or who are at least age sixty-five. If no Social Security benefits are available to you, you may still be able to get some financial help by applying to the Social Security Administration (SSA) for SSI disability payments.

Because SSI is paid based on financial need plus age or disability, Social Security will first evaluate your SSI application to see if your family’s income and countable resources (countable assets) fall within SSI’s allowed limits. If a disabled adult lives with his or her spouse, the spouse’s income and resources and the number of dependents the spouse supports are considered in addition to the applicant’s income. Similarly, when a disabled child lives with his or her parents or stepparents, the parental income and resources and the number of dependents the parents support will be considered in determining the disabled child’s financial eligibility.

Once it has been determined that the applicant is financially eligible, the adult’s or child’s medical condition will be reviewed and evaluated to determine whether or not he or she is disabled under Social Security law. SSI’s definition of disability for adults is the same as the definition of disability for Social Security disability. The definition of disability for a minor child and the process for determining medical eligibility for a child are different from the those for an adult. For more information about the adult disability evaluation, please see our collection of articles on the disability claims process. The many articles we offer on SSI provide more information about the financial and child’s disability requirements for Supplemental Security Income eligibility.

Dual Entitlement

Some people with a Social Security benefit of less than $770 may be eligible for a federal SSI payment to supplement their Social Security. The federal supplement will bring the claimant’s total income up to $770 per month. In addition to this, some states pay an optional SSI state supplement.

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