If I work from home, can I still qualify for benefits?

As a person who works from home, you can get benefits through the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) disability programs, as long as you paid into the Social Security system through taxes and have an established work history that makes you a “qualified beneficiary” under the SSA’s rules. Disability benefits ensure you have a steady source of income, and may include payments through SSDI, SSI, or both.

Basic Eligibility for SSDI

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is the formal name of the SSA’s primary disability program. This “insurance” requires you pay premiums in order to be covered. All American workers must, in other words, contribute to the Social Security fund to be qualified beneficiaries under this program. SSDI “premiums” are paid through taxes and these taxes are based on your net, annual income.

Could I qualify if I work from home?

Working from Home for a Third-Party Employer

If you work for a third party employer, even if working remotely out of your own home, then your Social Security taxes are typically collected by your employer as payroll deductions under FICA taxes. FICA notably, also includes Medicare taxes, and if you’re approved for SSDI benefits and remain on disability for two years, you automatically become eligible for medical coverage through Medicare.

Working from Home as a Self-employed Person

If you’re self-employed, then you’re responsible for paying your own Social Security and Medicare taxes under the Self-employment Contributions Act (SECA). Self-employment (SE) taxes are paid four times per tax year or at the time that you file your annual income tax return. Either way, these taxes are your contributions to the Social Security and Medicare funds. As long as your tax payments meet minimum requirements, you can qualify for SSDI benefits and Medicare coverage.

Qualified Beneficiary Status and Work History Requirements

As you pay Social Security taxes, you build a work history record with the SSA and accumulate work credits. To be a qualified SSDI beneficiary under the SSA’s rules, you must generally have between 20 and 40 credits available in your work record. The number of credits required for disability benefit approval depends on your age at the time you become disabled, and about half of your work credits should be from recent employment, usually within 10 years prior to the onset of disability.

Supplemental Security Income

SSDI is not the only disability program the SSA offers. You may potentially qualify for monthly disability payments through Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as well. SSI is need-based, requires no work history, and is not dependent on paying Social Security taxes either.

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

You can apply for SSI at the local SSA office or over the phone, by calling 1-800-772-1213. SSDI applications can be filed through these same means, or you can take advantage of the SSA’s online application portal. Whether you apply for SSI, SSDI, or both, you may want to consider consulting a disability advocate or attorney. He or she can assist you in completing and filing your application, collecting supporting evidence, and in filing appeals or requesting reconsideration reviews, if you’re initially denied benefits.