Is applicant currently receiving Social Security benefits? SSI is not based on your work history. In order to collect a spousal benefit, your spouse must file for benefits first, if you're married. For example, the $20 general income exclusion was intended in part to ensure that SSI recipients with a significant work history, and who therefore receive Social Security benefits, would have higher total incomes than SSI recipients who had little or no work history. The basic requirement is that you have worked at least one “quarter” each year for the past ten years, but this is lessened somewhat in the case of workers who are not yet old enough to have worked ten years or those who are nearing retirement age and are more likely to be deemed incapable of adjusting to new kinds of work. Getting Disability Without A Strong Work History. But what if you didn't put in 35 years in the workforce -- or any time, for that matter? Be sure you are clear on your lawyer’s fee structure in advance. You should receive a copy of this report by mail, but if you need a copy sooner than when it is sent out, you can request a Social Security Earnings report online or by phone. This means that if your spouse's monthly benefit is $2,000 at full retirement age, you could collect $1,000. Once complete, you can submit your application online, in person at the local SSA branch or by mail. You can't grow your spousal benefit, so once you reach full retirement age, you might as well claim it -- assuming your spouse has already filed. It's not an uncommon scenario. If you are disabled and you have worked for five out the past ten years, you should apply for SSDI. How Does my Work History Affect My Disability Application. For Supplemental Security Income (SSI), this means you must show that you have a financial need (again, according to their guidelines and definition of need). You may want to have someone help you, such as a lawyer or advocate or doctor (or all of the above). You should include all lab tests, blood test results, imaging results if applicable (including CT scans, MRI, x-rays etc), surgeries when applicable and your treatment plan. Even if you never earned money a day in your life, you can still receive benefit from Social Security. It’s a good idea to verify that the information included is accurate because this is what will determine your eligibility for SSI benefits and the amount you will receive. Make sure you have copies of your printed application in case your application is lost in the mail. The key difference, however, is that as long as you've been divorced for at least two years, you don't need to wait for your ex-spouse to claim benefits before filing for your spousal benefit. The amount of income (and FICA tax paid) required to earn a quarter of coverage is adjusted on a yearly basis, but most wage earners will have little trouble earning at least one quarter of coverage per year. Her goal is to make financial topics interesting (because they often aren't) and she believes that a healthy dose of sarcasm never hurt anyone.