The Social Security Disability Insurance program is not need-based. However, the Social Security Administration generally does require that an applicant have put in a certain amount of time earning an income before he or she can qualify for benefits, even if he or she has become disabled under the agency’s definition.
One of the requirements to be approved for SSD payments is to have enough “working credits.” A disabled worker must have sufficient work history, and have worked recently enough under the rules, or cannot receive SSD benefits.
The SSA considers the applicant’s age when determining whether he or she has enough working credits. For example, under the duration of work test, a 34-year-old applicant usually must have at least three years of work experience, while a 54-year-old needs at least eight years.
The recent work test has some allowance for periods of unemployment, but still requires some income to have been earned in recent years. For instance, a 31-year-old SSD applicant will need to show he or she worked at least five out of the previous 10 years before the disability occurred. Obviously, this may push up the total years of work on your resume needed to qualify somewhat higher.
Of course, there are other considerations, such as the nature and severity of the applicant’s disability, and even those with seemingly clear-cut cases can lose out in the first round. Nearly two out of every three SSD applications get rejected, according to the Motley Fool. When appealing, the assistance of an SSD attorney can be invaluable.