Can I Get Disability in Arkansas if I Haven’t Worked in 20 Years?

Many people in Arkansas rely on Social Security Disability benefits to provide supplemental financial support. Fortunately, for individuals who have worked and paid into Social Security, this safety net exists. However, people who have been out of work for a significant amount of time might not be eligible for benefits. Below, Ken Kieklak, a Fayetteville, AR disability attorney, looks at what you can do if you were out of work for 20 years and required financial assistance because of a medical condition.

Social Security Disability Insurance Works Like Insurance in Arkansas

A portion of nearly every paycheck has a deduction for FICA taxes. These contributions under the Federal Insurance Contribution Act fund Social Security, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Many workers believe that they are paying into a savings account that can be tapped into later in life if necessary. However, that is not the case. The money paid under the FICA does fund SSDI. However, the deduction is similar to an insurance premium a person pays on their car, home, or life insurance. Therefore, if you do not continue to pay into Social Security, you will lose your coverage.

When the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines eligibility for benefits, it looks at the previous ten years of employment. If you have been out of work for the last ten years, you will not be eligible for SSDI benefits.

For example, if you are a 30-year-old or older worker in Arkansas, you must have paid into FICA for at least five of the previous ten years to be eligible for SSDI benefits. Therefore, if you have not worked in over 20 years, you will typically not qualify for benefits.

Disability Benefits in Arkansas if Your Disability Started a Long Time Ago

As with every rule, there is an exception. There are certain situations where you could qualify for SSDI benefits if you have not worked in the last 20 years. The date your disability began is important in determining whether you are eligible for SSDI benefits. If you are able to prove that your disability started before the date your SSDI eligibility ran out, you could still qualify for disability benefits. Our experienced Arkansas disability benefits attorney will be able to assist you in working with the SSA.

To establish that your disability began before your SSDI eligibility lapsed, you will need to show extensive medical records and other documentation that demonstrates your medical condition started while you were still covered under SSDI.

Supplemental Security Income for People Who Have Not Worked in Over 20 Years in Arkansas

There is another option if you do not qualify for SSDI because you have not worked for over 20 years in Arkansas. Other benefits are available under Social Security through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. If you have a medical condition that makes it impossible to work and you are not eligible for SSDI benefits, you might be able to collect SSI if you meet the financial requirements.

SSI is usually meant for people over the age of 65. While SSI is not necessarily based on an individual’s medical condition, you must demonstrate a disability to receive SSI if you are under the age of 65. Additionally, eligibility is determined by financial need, meaning that it is a program designed for people with a significantly low income and limited valuable assets. When applying for SSI, the SSA does not consider a person’s primary residence or vehicle as valuable assets.

To qualify as disabled under SSI, you must demonstrate that your medical condition has resulted in your inability to do any substantial gainful activity (SGA). SGA is used to describe your level of earning capacity. If your impairment makes it impossible to earn more than $1,260 a month as of 2020, then you could qualify for SSI. Additionally, your medical condition or disability must be expected to last for a continuous 12-month period or end in your death. Many claims are denied because an applicant made a mistake on the required forms or failed to provide sufficient medical documentation to establish their condition. If you have any questions regarding your eligibility for SSI or the process for applying, contact our Arkansas disability benefits appeals attorney.

Once our office has gathered all your medical documentation, it will be forwarded to the local Social Security office. Your application and supporting information will then be submitted to the Disability Determination Services (DDS). The DDS will review your application to see if you meet the necessary requirements to qualify for SSI under the law.

The DDS will only consider the facts, documentation, and information you supply. This information could include statements from your treating physicians, hospitals, clinics, and other sources to demonstrate the impact your medical condition has on your ability to earn a living. Many applications are denied at this point, so it is crucial to have the help of a knowledgeable Arkansas disability case referrals attorney when preparing your application.

Call Our Arkansas Social Security Attorney to Schedule a Free Consultation

Apply for Social Security Disability benefits is a difficult and challenging process under the best of circumstances. If you have not worked for over 20 years, your chances of receiving disability benefits are significantly reduced. Because eligibility is generally not available for someone who has not worked in the last ten years, you should have an experienced Arkansas disability attorney at your side. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, has spent years helping disabled individuals find the financial support they need. Even if you do not qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, there may be other possibilities. Call our office at (479) 316-0438 to schedule a free consultation and review your options.