Long-Term Disability And The Self-Employed

Suffering a debilitating injury or contracting a serious medical condition can leave a person unable to work. Employees of large companies know that they can file a disability claim in an effort to access government benefits, but individuals who are self-employed may be unsure if they qualify for long-term financial help.

The self-employed are just as susceptible to a debilitating illness or injury as anyone else. Understanding your rights as a self-employed worker will allow you to access the financial help you need when your illness or injury prevents you from working.

Are You Self-Employed?

The first step in filing a long-term disability claim is to determine if the government defines you as a self-employed individual. There are a few different categories that the government recognizes when it comes to self-employment.

Ask yourself if you are an individual contractor engaged in a trade, operating a one-person business, providing direct management of a business you co-own, or engaged in the production and management of livestock and/or crops. If you can answer yes to any of these situations, then you would be considered a self-employed individual.

Do You Contribute to the Social Security Fund?

Individuals employed by a corporation pay Social Security taxes from each paycheck. These taxes go into a fund that helps support the payment of long-term disability claims. You also pay Social Security taxes as a self-employed individual.

The self-employment tax that you pay quarterly or annually on your earnings includes a portion that is sent to Social Security. This means that you have as much right to take advantage of Social Security disability benefits as someone employed by a corporation.

Do You Have Enough Work Credits?

Self-employed individuals need to calculate the number of work credits they have accumulated in order to determine their eligibility for disability benefit. One work credit is earned for each quarter that a self-employed individual generates income above a set amount. This amount is determined by the Social Security Administration and can change from one year to the next.

Eligibility for disability benefits generally requires that you have earned 40 work credits in total. At least 20 of these credits must have been earned within the last 10 years. Be aware that the exact number of work credits needed can vary based on your age.

If you don't meet the work credit requirements, you will need to file for Social Security Income benefits instead of disability benefits. An experienced attorney from a firm like Iler and Iler can help you calculate your work credits to determine your eligibility for long-term disability.