Obtaining SSDI with an employment gap

Ailments that make it hard to work don’t always go away overnight. Depending on your employer, you may have received workers’ compensation or some other form of private disability insurance. Unfortunately, many companies don’t want to keep you on their system for too long, even if you’re still dealing with your condition.

If that’s the case, applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) may be your next best option. However, if your condition has kept you out of work for five years or longer, getting access to benefits can make matters more complicated, but not impossible.

How long do people have to work to get SSDI?

Your eligibility often depends on how long you’ve been in the workforce. Typically, the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines your eligibility based on how many work credits you have. Those credits build up over your years of employment. However, applicants should also know that the SSA often doesn’t approve benefits for people who left the workforce for a prolonged period. For example, if you worked in your teens and early 20s but took time off to raise a family, you likely can’t get SSDI.

Are there exceptions to the rule?

While the SSA often abides by stringent standards, they occasionally make exceptions for those seeking support if:

  • You have worked intermittently and earned income over the past few years.
  • You can prove that your disability has substantially limited your ability to work through detailed medical records and statements from past employers.
  • You can prove that your condition will ultimately cause you to die.

What if I still don’t qualify for disability benefits?

If your application gets denied, despite all the time and effort you put in, your case is not a lost cause. Depending on the circumstances, you can also apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). It shares many characteristics of SSDI but can apply to people of all ages in need of financial support.

Jumping through the hoops to obtain disability benefits can feel daunting. Luckily, you don’t have to fight this battle alone.

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