Although I have worked in the past, I was not employed when I became disabled. Can I get Social Security Disability benefits?
Learn how your work history may insure you for Social Security Disability benefits even if you were not working when you became disabled.
Yes, You May Be Able to Collect Social Security Disability
You may be able to get Social Security disability benefits even if you were unemployed at the time of your disability.
Work Credit Requirements
To be insured for disability benefits, Social Security requires that you earn a certain number of work credits over your lifetime. Additionally, some of these credits have to be earned in a specified period of time just before your disability begins, but you do not have to be employed at the time of disability.
Work credits are obtained by working in jobs that are subject to Social Security taxation and by earning a certain dollar amount. As the cost of living has increased, the amount of earnings required for a one work credit has also increased. For example, in 2002, a work credit was $820.00 in earnings, and in 2011, it was $1,120.00. In 2018 it became $1,320.00. The number of credits required depends on your age.
For more information about work-credit requirements and becoming insured for disability benefits, please visit our article How Much Social Security-covered Work do I Need to Get Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits?
Proof of Recent Work
When you apply for benefits, it is helpful to take documentation of your recent earnings that may not yet be posted in Social Security’s records. Your prior-year W-2s or self-employment tax returns and proof of any current-year earnings, such as pay stubs or business receipts and expenses, will help Social Security correctly assess whether you have enough work credits to be qualify for Social Security Disability.
Understanding Social Security Disability—An Overview of the Basics
What is Disability According to Social Security Law?
Social Security Disability Insurance: A Brief Overview
More Frequently-Asked Questions about Social Security Disability Benefits
How can I get disability benefits from my relative’s Social Security work record?