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Stay-at-home parents may not be able to receive SSD benefits

In general, when a person in Philadelphia works, part of what he or she earns goes to the nation's Social Security program, including a pool of resources that is allocated towards the Social Security Disability Insurance program. One may expect that if they paid into the system, they will be able to collect benefits if they need them in the future. However, things are not so clear cut.

Imagine this: say you are in the workforce for ten or more years, paying your federal taxes along the way. Then you have a child and decide to leave the workplace for a period of time to help raise the child. The years go by and suddenly an illness or accident strikes, leaving you unable to care for yourself, much less earn a living. Since you had paid into the system earlier in your life, you should be able to apply for SSD benefits right? Sometimes this is not always the case.

What some people may not know is that once an individual leaves the workplace for over five years, their ability to apply for SSD benefits is gone, no matter how long they had previously worked and paid into the system. When it comes to SSD benefits, the Social Security Administration has what is known as a "recent work test." In order to meet this requirement, an individual applying for SSD benefits must have worked and been paying into the system through their taxes for at least five of the past 10 years.

This rule may seem very harsh, but it is the way the system currently works. Those who are applying for SSD benefits and aren't sure how the "recent work test" applies to them may want to seek help before proceeding so that they understand their legal rights.

Source: The Huffington Post, "The Social Security Con: How Stay-at-Home Moms (and Dads) Lose Their Social Security Disability," Margaret M. Kruse, March 14, 2016

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Pennsylvania Bar Association Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee