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How To Qualify For Social Security Disability Benefits If You Are Self-Employed

If you are self-employed, you own your own business or you do gig work or freelance. You pay in taxes, but you do not have an employer who makes deductions from your paychecks. If you are self-employed and you are disabled because of a medical condition, you may qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). This is a rundown of how you can qualify for disability benefits if you are self-employed.

SSDI and Self-Employment
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is an insurance program administered through the SSA in which workers pay insurance premiums through FICA taxes. FICA taxes include Social Security and Medicare, and when you are working for an employer, these taxes are automatically deducted from your paycheck. If you are self-employed, you must pay in your own FICA taxes. You can do this by paying estimated self-employment taxes or when you pay your self-employment tax balances through your annual income tax.

SSI and Self-Employment
Another disability program is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI is not based on work history but is instead a needs-based program. To qualify through SSI, you must have less than $2,000 in income and assets. If you have not earned enough credits to qualify for SSDI but meet the financial criteria, you can be approved for SSI if you meet the financial requirements.

Meeting The Medical Criteria
The SSA uses a medical guide, which is called the Blue Book, to determine eligibility. There are sections for different body systems, such as neurological, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and so forth. Each section has listings for the different potentially disabling conditions that an individual could suffer, and it has specific criteria that must be met for a claimant to qualify per that listing.

Work Credits
You must have a recent work history and have anywhere from 20 to 40 work credits to be eligible for SSDI by being covered by the program. When you pay in FICA, your work credits add up. The number of credits required for you to be covered by the program depend on your age at the time you become disabled. Anywhere from one-fourth to one-half of your work credits must have been earned during the last 10 years.

You earn one credit for every $1,410 in income during 2020. You can earn a maximum of 4 credits per year. So basically, you must have worked the equivalent of five years full-time out of the last 10 years. You can call the SSA to determine if you have earned enough work credits to be covered by SSDI.

Applying For Disability Benefits
If you are self-employed and a medical condition has kept you from working and earning a living, you can start the disability claims process online or by calling 1-800-772-1213 and speaking with a representative. You should gather all your medical records and your tax documents to support your claim. Financial records will be needed if you are applying for SSI.

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