I haven’t worked in more than a year. Can I still be eligible for Social Security disability?

Yes, you may be eligible for Social Security disability if your work history and medical condition meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) requirements for eligibility.

Usually, you must be unable to work for 12 months or have a condition that is likely to result in your death in order to be eligible for Social Security disability. Thus, if you have already been out of work for a year and you are expected to be out of work for at least one more year, then you may meet this element of eligibility.

However, You Still Need to Meet the Work History Requirements

The work history requirements can be confusing because they depend on your age and because the number of work credits that you need to qualify for Social Security disability can change from year to year. However, there are some general rules that you should know.

In order to qualify for Social Security disability you typically must…

  • Have earned 40 work credits. You can usually earn up to four credits a year. Credits do not expire and some of your credits may have been earned many years ago.
  • Have earned 20 work credits within the last ten years before you became disabled.

Of course, some exceptions to these general rules do apply. However, you should not let a year out of work due to a medical condition prevent you from applying for Social Security disability. Instead, you should find out the truth about your potential eligibility by reading our free Social Security Disability Fact Sheet.

Carl M. Weisbrod
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Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law