I’ve Never Been Employed…Can I Get SSDI If I Have Never Worked?

The Short Answer: Unfortunately, if you have never worked, you are ineligible for SSDI

Social Security Disability Insurance, known as SSDI, is a federal program that provides monthly payments to individuals with impairments that prevent them from working for at least 12 months. Unfortunately, this benefit is hard to obtain, with roughly 63% (almost two-thirds) of all claims receiving a denial.

To Receive SSDI, You Must Meet The Following Criteria:

  • You must have a current, documented medical condition that impacts your ability to work
  • You must have worked long enough to generate the credits necessary to be eligible for SSDI
  • You must have paid Social Security taxes during those years of employment
  • You are unable to perform “substantial gainful activity,” known as SGA
  • You cannot work for at least one year due to your medical condition, or your medical condition results in loss of life


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If you have never worked, you cannot obtain SSDI, as having an employment history that has generated credits for the program is one of the qualifying conditions — but that does not mean you are ineligible for another Social Security benefit — SSI (Supplemental Security Income). 

What Are My Options If I Am Ineligible For SSDI And I Have Never Worked?

Laura Johnson, the head attorney at Michael Armstrong Law, says, “If you’re ineligible for SSDI, most likely you need to apply to SSI; however, certain asset limits apply.

Supplemental Security Income is the federal program you can still be eligible for if you have never worked. SSI is determined by your age, manner of disability, and circumstances of limited income, whereas SSDI is based on disability and accumulated work credits. 

How Do I Apply For SSI?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is based on need, not employment or work history. If you are ineligible for SSDI because you have never worked, SSI is the federal program that you can still apply for if you are in need of assistance and you have never worked. You can visit the Social Security Administration website to schedule an online appointment. Once you receive confirmation that your application has been filed, contact Michael Armstrong Law for additional assistance.

What Do I Do If My Application For SSI Is Denied?

Unfortunately, most SSDI and SSI claimants receive a denial on their initial applications. If this happens, contact the team at Michael Armstrong Law for assistance in appealing your Social Security Disability claim. Our compassionate and experienced team can help you get the benefits you deserve! 


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