Can a Stay-at-Home Parent Collect Disability Benefits?

If you are a stay-at-home parent who has become disabled, you may be wondering if you qualify for social security disability benefits. Yes, a stay-at-home parent should be able to collect disability benefits under certain circumstances. The eligibility of stay-at-home parents for disability benefits in the USA primarily depends on their work history and the severity of their disability. Specifically, they may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits if they have a qualifying work history and meet the Social Security Administration's definition of disability.

Understanding Disability Benefits

To qualify for disability benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, an individual must have worked in jobs covered by Social Security and earned enough work credits. Work credits are based on annual earnings, and the number required for eligibility varies depending on the individual's age at the time of disability onset.

Generally, a person needs 40 work credits, 20 of which must have been earned in the last ten years leading up to the disability. However, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) doesn’t require any work credits but assesses a disabled person based on their assets and income. This doesn’t include the home that a disabled person may own.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines disability as a severe impairment expected to last at least one year or result in death, which prevents the individual from performing substantial gainful activity (SGA). Substantial gainful activity refers to work that earns above a certain monthly threshold set by the SSA.

If the disability prevents the individual from performing SGA, they may qualify for SSDI benefits, regardless of whether they are a stay-at-home parent or not. Eligibility criteria for disability benefits, includes the requirement for the disability to be severe enough that it is found in the SSA’s Blue Book which covers medical conditions and if they qualify for disability benefits.

Qualifying as a Stay-at-Home Parent

A stay-at-home parent is someone, typically a mother or father, who chooses to forgo traditional employment outside the home to focus on caring for their children and managing household responsibilities. This role is multifaceted and often involves tasks such as childcare, meal preparation, household chores, transportation, and providing emotional support to family members.

Challenges Faced by Stay-at-Home Parents in Qualifying for Disability Benefits

Stay-at-home parents often face challenges in qualifying for disability benefits due to their lack of traditional employment. Disability benefit programs typically require individuals to have a work history and contribute to Social Security through payroll taxes. Since stay-at-home parents may not have earned income or paid into these programs, they may not meet the eligibility criteria based on work credits.

Documenting work history can be challenging for stay-at-home parents, especially if they have been out of the workforce for a long period. Disability benefit programs often require detailed records of past employment, including earnings history and duration of employment. Stay-at-home parents may struggle to provide sufficient documentation of their work history, which can hinder their ability to qualify for benefits.

Difficulty proving disability is another challenge commonly faced by stay-at-home parents as the disability benefit programs typically require individuals to demonstrate that they have a severe impairment that prevents them from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA).

However, assessing the impact of a disability on a stay-at-home parent's ability to perform household duties and care giving responsibilities may be more complex than evaluating work-related tasks. Additionally, medical evidence supporting the severity and duration of the disability may be limited, particularly if the parent has not sought medical treatment or documentation in the past.

Eligibility for Disability Benefits as a Stay-at-Home Parent

Factors that are considered when determining eligibility include work history, income, and medical condition. Despite not having recent work history, stay-at-home parents may still be able to qualify for disability benefits through alternative means.

For example, if their spouse has a sufficient work history and is eligible for Social Security benefits, they may be able to claim benefits as a dependent spouse or through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program's auxiliary benefits. Also they may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is a needs-based program that does not require work credits but has strict income and asset limits.

Some states offer care giving credits or allowances that recognize the valuable contribution of stay-at-home parents to the household and family. These credits can be used to supplement a lack of recent work history when applying for disability benefits. However, the availability and eligibility criteria for care giving credits may vary.

Options for Stay-at-Home Parents Seeking Disability Benefits

Stay-at-home parents who have not worked or earned enough work credits may still qualify for SSI if they meet the program's income and assets limits and are also determined to have a qualifying disability. The amount of money you can expect to receive is calculated based on your needs. To be eligible, you are required to meet exactly the same medical disability standards as a person who is eligible for SSDI. Your income has to be low, and your assets can’t exceed certain set thresholds limits.

Speak With a Social Security Disability Attorney

It's important to note that navigating the SSDI application process can be complex, and stay-at-home parents may face challenges in documenting their work history and the impact of their disability. Seeking assistance from legal or advocacy services specializing in disability rights can be helpful in understanding eligibility requirements and completing the application accurately.

If you are a disabled stay at home parent, fill out the free case evaluation to get connected with an independent social security attorney who subscribes to the website and may be able to answer any questions you may have.