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Can You Get Disability if You Never Worked?

Published on January 17th, 2024 by Web Master

A Social Security Disability claim on a blue clipboard with glasses and a blue pen sitting on top of it.

Navigating Disability Benefits: Understanding Your Options Without A Work History

In Arizona, many individuals living with disabilities face unique challenges. When it comes to understanding eligibility for disability benefits, it’s a common misconception that only those with a substantial work history can receive disability. However, even if you’ve never worked or have a limited work history, there are still avenues available for obtaining the support you need.

If you’re asking, “Can I get disability if I never worked?” continue reading to learn about your options.

Understanding SSDI and SSI: Two Paths to Disability Benefits

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two primary disability benefits programs. These include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

While SSDI is well-known for being linked to employment history, SSI serves as a crucial lifeline for those without such a background.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

SSDI is awarded to disabled individuals who have contributed to the Social Security System through previous employment. Eligibility hinges on proving you have a disability that severely limits your ability to work, and therefore perform Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). Your disability must be a medically diagnosed physical or mental condition that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death. Additionally, your condition must be considered a “qualifying impairment” by the SSA.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSI is a needs-based program designated for individuals who cannot qualify for SSDI. To apply for SSI, you must be considered disabled, blind, or aged (65 years or older) by the SSA.

So, can you get disability without a work history? The answer is yes, through the SSI program. SSI stands apart from SSDI in that a claimant does not need to have a work history to be eligible.

Funded by general funds of the U.S. Treasury, SSI aims to assist individuals with disabilities who have minimal or no income and limited resources.

Eligibility Criteria for SSI

To qualify for SSI benefits with a disability, candidates must meet specific medical and financial criteria.

Medical criteria for adults ages 18-65 includes demonstrating a medically diagnosed physical or mental impairment that prevents full-time employment. The condition must also be expected to last at least 1 year or result in death.

For children under 18, SSI medical criteria are similar, focusing on severe functional limitations caused by the disability.

When it comes to financial criteria, SSI claimants must understand that benefit eligibility is impacted by their current financial situation. To qualify for SSI, resources and assets must be below a specific threshold. This includes things such as cash, property, existing income, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, pensions, etc.

However, there are exceptions to SSI income and resource limits. Certain resources like your primary residence, personal vehicle, and most household goods are exempt from consideration.

It’s important to note that these are general guidelines. A qualified Phoenix Social Security disability lawyer at Slepian Ellexson, PLLC can offer advice based on your unique circumstances.

Determining Your Eligibility for SSI

Lacking a work history does not automatically disqualify you from receiving disability benefits. SSI is designed precisely for such situations. Moreover, if you have some work history, you might be eligible for both SSI and SSDI benefits.

For individuals with disabilities and limited financial resources, understanding the options is crucial. If you find yourself or your loved ones navigating this complex terrain, schedule a free consultation with our knowledgeable disability lawyers at Slepian Ellexson, PLLC. Our professionals can provide clarity and direction.

Remember, regardless of your work history, you have rights and options for support. So, we encourage you to reach out to our law firm if you have been asking, “Can you receive disability if you never worked?”

Contact us to schedule your free consultation.

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