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Can I receive SSD benefits if I have never worked?

pSocialSecurityCardsW2_Depositphotos_26220651_m-300x184.jpgPeople who can't work gainfully due to disabling conditions may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Many Tennessee residents may think these benefits are only available to people who worked before their disabilities began. As a Tennessee disability attorney knows, Social Security Disability Insurance eligibility does depend on work history and earnings. However, other benefits may be available to disabled individuals who have never worked.

Need-based SSI benefits

People with limited or no work history may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income disability benefits. To qualify, these individuals must have severely limited income and assets. An individual SSI applicant cannot have resources worth more than $2,000. Additionally, the person's countable income cannot exceed the federal benefit rate, which is $733 per month in 2015.

Determining financial eligibility for SSI can be difficult because some assets and income don't count toward these limits. For example, a person's home, vehicle and certain savings or benefits are not considered resources. Additionally, a substantial fraction of income may not qualify as countable income.

Besides meeting financial criteria, people seeking SSI must qualify as disabled under Social Security's standards. As a Tennessee disability attorney could explain, an SSI applicant must establish the following:

  • The applicant suffers from a disabling medical condition that is likely to last over 12 months or result in death
  • Due to this condition, the applicant cannot perform work that he or she did in the past.
  • For the same reason, the applicant cannot reasonably learn or adjust to new types of work.

Applicants who lack work experience and related skills may have limited job opportunities. However, these applicants still must show that their impairments play a significant role in preventing them from working. Applicants may need to furnish medical records and information about their backgrounds to prove gainful employment isn't feasible.

Dependent SSD benefits

People who have been married to SSDI beneficiaries may qualify for dependent benefits, regardless of income, work history or health. As a Tennessee Disability attorney knows, dependents may receive up to 50 percent of what a beneficiary receives. A beneficiary's spouse may receive benefits if the spouse is older than 62 or caring for the beneficiary's child. An ex-spouse can collect benefits if the ex-spouse is older than 62 and if the marriage lasted over 10 years. Ex-spouses lose this entitlement upon remarriage.

If an SSDI recipient passes away, a spouse or ex-spouse may receive survivors benefits. Generally, spouses and qualifying ex-spouses may start collecting reduced benefits at age 60. However, disabled survivors may receive benefits at age 50 if the disability began within seven years of the beneficiary's death. To collect these early benefits, survivors must meet the same disability criteria as people seeking direct benefits.


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