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Can All Workers Claim Social Security Disability?

June 30, 2022 Disability

The two key requirements for Social Security disability eligibility are (1) a disability according to the Social Security Administration (SSA) definition of the term, and (2) a history of employment demonstrated by an adequate number of work credits. Meeting the disability requirement is the primary challenge for most applicants, but the work requirement can also be a stumbling block, as not all types of work are considered “employment” for Social Security Disability purposes. If you’re not sure whether your work history qualifies you for Social Security disability benefits, please contact a Baltimore SSD attorney

Almost All Workers May Claim Disability

The vast majority of workers — roughly 89% between the ages of 21 and 64 — are covered by Social Security disability insurance through their employment. The SSA defines “employment” as “any service covered by social security performed by an employee for his or her employer.” This covers almost all private sector and public sector employment. The key inquiry for most disability claimants is not whether their work is covered, but whether they have enough work credits for their age to meet the SSA’s employment requirement. Generally, workers earn a certain number of work credits for every year they work and pay Social Security taxes; as long as they have the requisite number of work credits for their age the year they apply, the work requirement is met. 

Types of Work Excluded

However, not all workers qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The rationale varies by profession. For example, some workers may be covered by other disability programs, while others are excluded only if they earn below a certain coverage threshold. Major categories of work and types of workers that are excluded from coverage include: 

  • Federal employees hired before 1984
  • Certain state and local government employees
  • Railroad workers
  • Certain children under the age of 18 who work for their parents
  • Work performed by students for schools, colleges, and universities
  • Certain members of the clergy 
  • Certain work performed by noncitizens
  • Farm workers (if the employer pays the individual less than $150 in cash for the year and the employer’s total expenses for agricultural labor are less than $2,500 for the year)
  • Self-employed workers with net earnings of less than $400 for the year
  • Election officials and workers with earnings below $2,000 for the tar
  • Household employees with earnings of less than $2,400 for the year

If any of these scenarios apply to you and you are unable to work due to a disability, please contact a Baltimore SSD attorney who can discuss your options with you. 

The Included-Excluded Rule

For workers in excluded employment, there is a possible silver lining. If part of your work during a pay period is covered and part is excluded, all of your work is considered covered if at least half of your work in the pay period was covered work. However, the opposite is also true: If you spend most of your time in a pay period doing excluded work, all of your work in that pay period is considered excluded.

Contact a Baltimore SSD Attorney for Help with Your Claim

Working in a job that is excluded from disability coverage can make receiving disability benefits an uphill climb, but not necessarily impossible. The best way to make the strongest claim possible is with help from an attorney. For more information, please contact Baltimore SSD attorney Emmett B. Irwin by calling 443-839-0818 or using our online contact form.