If you are suffering from a disability that prevents you from working you could be entitled to disability benefits through either the Social Security Disability Insurance program or the Supplemental Security Income program (SSDI or SSI). Qualifying for either the SSDI or the SSI can provide you and your family with much needed monetary compensation. If you have not worked recently you may be concerned that this will prevent you from qualifying for benefits. The good news is that you can get disability benefits if you haven’t worked for several years as long as you meet all of the program requirements.
Both SSDI and SSI provide monthly benefits to eligible participants. Both programs are also administered by the Social Security Administration, or SSA. As such, the definition of “disabled” is also the same for both programs. To be considered for SSDI or SSI it must be determined that:
- You cannot do work that you did before;
- You cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s); and
- Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
Your work history is not considered for SSI. Eligibility for SSI benefits is based entirely on your status as disabled and on your income. As long as you meet the SSA definition of disabled and your monthly income is below the current limit for SSI you should qualify for benefits.
Your work history does play a role in your eligibility for SSDI; however, you may still qualify even if you have not worked for the last several years. To be eligible for SSDI you must first be considered disabled and then you must meet the “work credits” requirement. Work credits are earned during the course of your lifetime as you earn wages. One credit can be earned each quarter if you meet the earnings requirement ($1200 as of 2014). Your age at the time you apply for SSDI determines how many work credits you need to qualify. Most people will need 40 credits, 20 of which must have been earned in the last ten years. Therefore, it is possible to qualify even if you have not worked in the last few years; however, if your unemployment status has gone on for too long it could impact your eligibility for SSDI.
If you have specific questions about the SSDI or SSI program, contact an experienced Michigan SSDI and SSI attorney.
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