How to Apply for Disability When You are Told You Can’t Apply for Disability

Robin Mead

If someone has told you that you cannot apply for disability, please don’t give up hope until you have looked into all your options.

Even if the person who told you this is a lawyer, or a caseworker, or someone who works at Social Security!

We cannot make any promises, but we can tell you that many people are told this and it turns out not to be true. Or it turns out to be somewhat true and then they find a clever way to make it no longer true!

Why did someone tell you that you couldn’t get disability?


“I Can’t Apply Because I’m Too Young”

“I Can’t Apply Because I’m Still Working”

“I’m Not Sick Enough. You Have to Be Dead to Get Approved.”

“Someone Said I Can’t Apply. I Have No Idea Why”


To get SSI, you need to be poor:

How Poor Do I Have to Be?

“I Have Too Much Savings Or Own Too Much Stuff”

“I Have Too Much Income (gifts, scholarships, fundraisers, assistance, etc)”

“I’m Poor But Still Don’t Qualify. Why Not?”


SSDI is different then SSI. To get SSDI, you need to have a work history:

“I Don’t Have Enough Work Credits”

“My Work Credits Expired”

“I Have No Idea if I Have Enough Work Credits or If They Expired”


“I Can’t Apply Because My Spouse Has Too Much Income”


Employer Disability  – Check with your employer to see if they offer disability insurance.

Government Employees – Contact your employer to see if they have their own disability system

State Disability – NY, NJ, RI, CA and HI offer short term disability through the state.

Widows – If you are disabled, you can collect widow’s benefits earlier than most people. Benefits can begin at age 50 if you are disabled (age 60 if you are not).

Ex-Widows – If you were previously married for at least ten years and then got divorced, you may still be able to do the widow thing mentioned above.

Disabled Adult Children – Does not matter what age you are now. If you were under 22 when you first became disabled, you may be eligible for Disabled Adult Child benefits.

Retirement Plans – Some plans offer disability retirement

Life Insurance – Some plans offer disability payouts


If you get a medical denial, you should always appeal. This means they did not find that you are disabled, but there are many many many things you can do to Appeal and Improve Your Chances.


If you get a technical denial, something has gone wrong. It may help to schedule a meeting with someone from your local office (can be a phone meeting). Ask them to review your case with you and explain the denial. Do not just call and talk to the random person who answers the phone.

Once you know the problem, you may be able to fix the problem by following the regulations mentioned above, and then reapply. Or, if you believe they made a mistake, you can appeal the denial and contact your congressperson for help.


Someone At Social Security Said I Can’t Apply. I Don’t Know Why

“I Have Questions and Can’t Find Answers”

“I’m Having a Problem and Need Help.


Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. 

Updated May 2018. If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons:

3 thoughts on “How to Apply for Disability When You are Told You Can’t Apply for Disability”

  1. I keep trying to go back to work but I just can’t make it work. I’ve always wanted to make my own money since the kids got older but I just stay so sick. Thank you for figuring out my work credits. I can’t say enough how much your help mean to me!


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