Disabled by 22: Can Young Adults Get SSDI?
A disabling injury or illness can happen to anyone, at any time. Even young people are not immune. In fact, according to the Social Security Administration, the chances an individual will become disabled are greater than most people realize: a 20-year-old worker has a 1-in-4 chance of becoming disabled before reaching retirement age.
We’ve worked with many a young person who is disabled and worried about supporting themselves. They want to know: what are their options? Can young adults get SSDI benefits? What if they don’t qualify?
Today, we’re giving an overview of how SSDI works for young adults who become disabled. Keep reading to learn more about this important topic.
How Social Security Disability Works
Social Security Disability is a type of insurance administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Each working person contributes to this program through payroll taxes.
To be eligible for SSDI benefits, generally an individual needs to meet several requirements:
- Having a “qualifying disability” (a physical or mental condition that prevents the individual from working for at least one year, or is expected to end with the individual’s passing)
- Having a work history that passes the “recent work test” and the “duration of work test”
(Note that there are exceptions for people who are blind or have low vision. These individuals need only pass the duration of work test.)
Because SSDI has certain work history requirements, it can be tricky for young people. If you only worked a short time—or not at all—before becoming disabled, does SSDI still cover you?
Social Security Disability for Young People
Young adults typically have two pathways to SSDI benefits, depending on their circumstances and the age at which they became disabled.
Before Age 22
Adults who develop a disability before age 22 may be eligible for “child’s benefits.” These benefits are called child’s benefits because they are paid based on the parent’s work history and earning record.
To collect these benefits, you don’t need to ever have worked. You may be eligible for child’s benefits if one of your parents is collecting Social Security retirement or disability benefits. You also may be eligible or if one of your parents is deceased.
After Age 22
If you become disabled after age 22, you will not be eligible for SSDI child’s benefits. However, that doesn’t mean all is lost.
For young people, the good news is the the SSA’s recent work test and duration of work test are based on age. The younger you are, the less time you need to have worked in order to pass these tests. This is obviously fair: the Social Security Administration can’t possibly expect a decade of work from someone who became disabled at age 23.
- Recent Work Test: If you became disabled in or before the calendar quarter you turn 24, you generally need to have worked 1.5 years out of the three years immediately before the date of your disability.
- Duration of Work Test: If you become disabled before age 28, you generally need 1.5 total years of work.
If you meet these requirements (in addition to the medical requirements, of course), you are generally eligible to receive SSDI benefits. (You can learn more about the SSDI’s work requirements in a previous post.)
You can file for SSDI benefits, which will be based on your own (rather than your parent’s) work and earnings history. If your claim is successful, you’ll continue to receive monthly benefits until any medical improvement allows you to resume working (if possible).
What If You Don’t Qualify?
If you don’t qualify for SSDI based on your work history, you might consider Supplemental Security Income (SSI) instead. SSI is another program administered by the SSA; however, this program isn’t based on work history. It is need-based program funded by general taxes, so you only need to meet the disability and income requirements to qualify.
You can learn more about the differences between SSDI and SSI in a previous post.
Need help with an SSDI Claim? Call Today
Filing an SSDI claim can be complicated and confusing. Many people are denied the first time they make a claim, often because of a paperwork error or other bureaucratic mistake. These denials delay much-needed benefits and make the process much more stressful than it needs to be.
If you are unsure if you qualify as a young adult, or if you simply need help processing your claim, don’t hesitate to contact us. Casper & Casper is here to help you navigate the complex SSDI process.
We’ve helped many people just like you in the Cincinnati, Hamilton, Dayton, and Middletown areas.
To speak with one of our firm’s experienced SSDI attorneys, call today. We’d be happy to answer your questions and assist you in any way we can.