Will I Receive Disability Benefits If I Haven’t Worked in Years?

social security disability benefits

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is excellent for covering your financial needs if you sustain debilitating injuries.

However, did you know that SSDI follows a strict expiration policy? You can only claim disability benefits within a limited period after your last Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax payment.

You may thus wonder if you can still claim the insurance if you haven’t worked in a few years.

What is the expiration period to remember, and what are your other options if you can’t claim SSDI anymore?

Read on for a quick guide to claiming disability benefits a few years after you stopped working.

Understanding Work Credit Requirements When Claiming SSDI

social security

The Social Security Administration (SSA) requires you to earn sufficient work credits to qualify for SSDI. You earn one credit for every $1,510 you pay into FICA tax and may accumulate up to four credits a year.

You generally should earn at least 20 credits within the last ten years to qualify for the insurance program. So, you should have worked for at least five years within the previous ten years before you sustained a disabling condition.

However, the SSA will also consider your age upon starting your disability, as it may change your credit requirement.

For example, you may qualify for insurance if you are 30 years old or below when you got a disability. However, you need more credits if you were at least 45 years old during the onset of your condition.

Consulting a Burbank Social Security benefits lawyer will help clarify the credit requirements for your situation.

What Is the Date of the Last Insured

social security

The Date of Last Insured (DLI) is the deadline SSDI could cover after your last FICA payment, depending on your credit requirement.

For example, suppose you need 24 credits or six working years within the last ten years before sustaining a disabling condition. Your DLI is four years after your previous FICA payment to meet your credit requirement of six working years.

You may thus wonder if you can still claim this insurance when you missed the DLI deadline.

Fortunately, SSA considers the onset of disability when approving SSDI claims instead of the current date.

For example, suppose you need 20 work credits, and your last payment was in January 2015. Your DLI would fall on January 2020, but you sustained a disabling condition in 2019. You may qualify for the insurance in 2022 if you can prove that the start of your condition occurred before your DLI.

However, you can’t claim SSDI if your disability started after your DLI had passed.

What If You No Longer Qualify for SSDI

social security

You may claim Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits if you don’t qualify for the SSDI. The SSI is another disability benefits program from the SSA that doesn’t rely on work credit requirements.

However, you have to fulfill these general requirements to receive benefits:

  • You must be a disabled person or is at least 65 years old
  • You have a limited monthly income, which is less than $861 per individual and $1,281 for couples in 2022

Call a Burbank Social Security benefits lawyer to know more about claiming SSI.

Hire a Social Security Benefits Attorney in Burbank to Claim the Best Disability Benefits for Your Situation


Claiming disability insurance is a complex process as you have to meet some strict SSA requirements. However, having a successful claim lets you enjoy your deserved benefits, even a few years after you had stopped working.

Calling a Burbank Social Security benefits lawyer helps determine the best disability insurance option available.

Scroll to top