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What happens to your SSD if you become a stay-at-home parent?

Social Security disability is a complex program. It has many technical rules. They are technical in the sense that they must be followed, or the program will not work for you. To qualify for SSD benefits, it is not enough that you suffer a disabling impairment or medical condition and that you have been unable to hold a job.

In order to be eligible for SSD benefits, not only do you have to suffer an impairment that makes it impossible for you to work, but you have to correctly complete the application for benefits and meet all of the other requirement of the very technical rules of the program.

A woman describes how her sister-in-law had worked for many years, before the birth of her child. During that period, she was paying into the Social Security system through payroll deductions at work. After her child was born, she and her husband determined that she would stay home with the child. Sure, it would be a financial sacrifice, but it seemed well worth it.

Then, they decided she would home school her child. Again, this seems a rich and rewarding way of raising their child. Then, out of nowhere, they received some shocking news. She was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a very disabling condition. In fact, it is typically so severe that the average survival rate for an ALS patients is only three to five years.

Seemingly, this would be an easy case of approval for SSD benefits. Except, remember, SSD is a technical program, and you have to meet all of the requirements for benefits. One of those requirements is that you must have worked essentially five of the last 10 years.

The premium paid into the SSD program while you are working do not provide disability coverage indefinitely. If you become disabled after your coverage runs out-at the latest, the end of the fifth year after you stop paying Social Security tax-you no longer have disability insurance and cannot get benefits.

If we Americans wanted a better Social Security disability system we would need higher payroll taxes. In a sense, we get what we pay for.

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

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