Ask Larry

Does My Husband Have To Be Out Of Work Before He Can File For SSDI?

My husband is 60, was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2019, He is under the care of a neurologist and is on medication and does have a significant tremor in his hand. He is a construction superintendent. He is still independent and can do everything for himself - feed, dress, bathe, but we've noticed he is not physically as strong as he was a year ago and his decision making and problem solving is impaired sometimes, his walking is not always steady which can be dangerous especially on a construction job site. He has worked since he was a teenager. Does he have to be out of work before he can file for SSDI, if so how long? What does he need to qualify to receive SSDI? Thank you for your help.

Hi. I'm sorry to hear about your husband's impairment. A person can't be approved for Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits if they're working and earning more than what Social Security considers to be substantial gainful activity (SGA). The monthly SGA amount in 2021 is $1,310 for non-blind individuals, and $2,190 for people who are blind.

If your husband files for SSDI while he's still earning more than SGA level, his claim will be disallowed without even considering his medical condition. However, if he has to stop work or if his earnings drop below SGA level, he can apply SSDI benefits and then Social Security will make a determination on whether or not his condition is severe enough to meet their guidelines. They will base their determination on your husband's medical records, and they may ask him to attend a consultative examination. Your husband wouldn't need to obtain his medical records himself. He would just be asked to complete a form listing the doctors and hospitals that he's seen about his impairment, and Social Security will go about obtaining his records. If your husband's claim ends up being approved, SSDI benefits are first payable following a 5 calendar month waiting period from the person's date of disability onset.

For example, say that a person stops work on February 24 2021, and that ends up being approved as their date of onset for SSDI benefits. That person's 5 month waiting period for SSDI would then be March 2021 through July 2021, and their first month of SSDI entitlement would be August 2021. Social Security pays monthly benefits a month behind, though, so benefits for August 2021 can't be paid before September 2021.

Best, Jerry

Feb 22 2021 - 4:52pm
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