Social Security has a little rule that could impact you if you are, say, a stay-at-home Mom raising children and suddenly become disabled. I took this directly from the Social Security web site:
How Do I Meet The Earnings Requirement For Disability Benefits?
In general, to get disability benefits, you must meet two different earnings tests:
- A “recent work” test based on your age at the time you became disabled; and
- A “duration of work” test to show that you worked long enough under Social Security.
Certain blind workers have to meet only the “duration of work” test.
The table below, shows the rules for how much work you need for the “recent work” test based on your age when your disability began. The rules in this table are based on the calendar quarter in which you turned or will turn a certain age.
The calendar quarters are:
Rules for work needed for the "recent work test" If you become disabled ... Then you generally need: In or before the quarter you turn age 24 1.5 years of work during the three-year period ending with the quarter your disability began. In the quarter after you turn age 24 but before the quarter you turn age 31 Work during half the time for the period beginning with the quarter after you turned 21 and ending with the quarter you became disabled. Example: If you become disabled in the quarter you turned age 27, then you would need three years of work out of the six-year period ending with the quarter you became disabled. In the quarter you turn age 31 or later Work during five years out of the 10-year period ending with the quarter your disability began.
First Quarter: January 1 through March 31
Second Quarter: April 1 through June 30
Third Quarter: July 1 through September 30; and
Fourth Quarter: October 1 through December 31
The following table shows examples of how much work you need to meet the “duration of work test” if you become disabled at various selected ages. For the “duration of work” test, your work does not have to fall within a certain period of time.
Examples of work needed for the "duration of work"test If you become disabled ... Then you generally need: Before age 28 1.5 years of work Age 30 2 years Age 34 3 years Age 38 4 years Age 42 5 years Age 44 5.5 years Age 46 6 years Age 48 6.5 years Age 50 7 years Age 52 7.5 years Age 54 8 years Age 56 8.5 years Age 58 9 years Age 60 9.5 years
This table does not cover all situations.
In short, if there's a big gap in your employment history right before you become disabled, depending on your age and the duration of your earnings gap, you may not be entitled to ANY SS Disability benefits at ALL.
Ludicrous rule if you ask me. After all, what if you were divorced, or widowed or something? You need to work, but now you are disabled and cannot? No matter how hard you've been working without pay, raising children, keeping house, and all the myriad other things a stay-at-home Mom does, if you have not been working for five years or more, you are no longer entitled to benefits--no matter how long you worked previously and paid in to Social Security.
I worked for over a decade and paid into Social Security the whole time, but because I had not been working for over five years at the time I became disabled, I was not allowed any benefits at all. To regain benefits, I would have to work for five years, earning at least $1,000.00 a year and paying Social Security on the income. Well, if I could do that, I wouldn't need disability in the first place!
Anyway, if this info helps just one person avoid the Earnings Requirement pitfall, I'll be happy.