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Can I Receive Disability Benefits Without a Work History?


Though there are specific requirements that apply to each individual case, you must generally establish two sets of facts to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits:

  • You must show that you are disabled according to the strict regulations of the Social Security Administration (SSA); and,
  • You need to establish that you qualify based upon your work history.

There are many reasons you may have taken time away from work, some of which may be related to your medical condition and others may be completely separate. Still, because your prior work efforts are half the battle for purposes of eligibility, you may wonder how the SSA will view your situation. Though you should discuss your circumstances with a Maryland SSDI attorney, some background information may help.

Filing for Social Security Disability Insurance 

The key word in “SSDI” is insurance, and federal disability benefits work in much the same way. If you have insurance for healthcare, cars, their homes, businesses, and other assets, you know that you must pay your premiums in order to get coverage. The only difference with SSDI is that your “premium” comes in the form of a tax deducted from your paycheck under the Federal Income Contributions Act (FICA).

If you are not working and earning a paycheck, FICA taxes are obviously not deducted so – in a sense – you are not paying your insurance premiums. Any insurance policy, including SSDI, will lapse after a certain amount of time when you stop paying. Under SSA regulations, this is referred to as the Date Last Insured (DLI).

Determining Your Eligibility Based Upon DLA 

Your recent work and duration are examined on a sliding scale, based upon credits; one quarter of work is equal to one credit. Generally, you need at least 40 credits in the past 10 years to qualify for SSDI, though the requirements may be reduced for workers under 30 years old and those approaching retirement.

Options for Disability Benefits Without a Work History 

If you do not meet the SSA standards regarding work credits, there are alternatives that may apply to your situation. 

  • Your Established Onset Date (EOD): If your disability occurred before your DLI, you may qualify for SSDI. You can still file because you were still paying into FICA for a certain amount of time.
  • Supplemental Security Income: SSI is a program that is related to SSDI in that it is available to those with a qualifying disability, but it is not dependent upon work history. Instead, you must show financial need by presenting information on your income and assets.

A Maryland SSDI Attorney Can Answer Questions Regarding Work History

If you want to know more about how your work history and credits affect your eligibility for SSDI, please contact the Law Offices of Steinhardt, Siskind and Lieberman, LLC. Our attorneys have extensive knowledge in the laws and SSA regulations, and can explain your options. We are happy to set up a free case assessment at any of our Maryland offices in Glen Burnie, Owings Mills, Ellicott City, or Annapolis.

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