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I’m a Homemaker. Can I Qualify for Disability Benefits?

 

Any person, regardless of their gender, can choose to be a homemaker. However, statistically speaking, the bulk of unpaid domestic work falls on women’s shoulders.

According to CNN, a United Nations report earlier this year estimated that women do more than double the amount of unpaid care and domestic work that men do. Although stereotypical housework may conjure images of cooking and cleaning, unpaid domestic work stretches outside the home to everything from driving children to after-school activities to picking up family prescriptions.

All of this is to say that being a homemaker or a stay-at-home parent is real, honest work. It requires the same amount of time and energy as any other job in the public or private sector. The domestic labor of parents or spouses is embedded into the framework of our society, regardless of gender.

Evansville has its fair share of stay-at-home parents and homemakers. From stay-at-home dads defying stereotypes to stay-at-home moms finding community in MOMS Clubs, Evansville has its own framework to support parents who choose to stay home.

The only difference between being a homemaker or stay-at-home parent and having a job outside of the house is this: You likely won’t qualify for Social Security disability insurance benefits (DIB).

Why You Likely Won’t Qualify for DIB

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It’s a real, often difficult situation when the main homemaker or stay-at-home parent in a family can no longer take care of the home or the family due to a disability. There’s a true loss of work and productivity that may cause a financial loss for the family as others try to balance housework with other jobs. That’s in addition to the medical bills that may crop up as the disabled homemaker in the family starts seeking treatment for their condition.

That’s why it can be so frustrating to receive a DIB denial from the Social Security Administration (SSA) after applying for disability. However, it’s not because your disability isn’t real or because you’re not in real financial trouble that you were denied. It’s simply because of the way the system is set up.

If you’re a homemaker, you can’t qualify for DIB simply because of one specific rule: You have to pay into DIB in order to qualify for it. Most people pay into DIB through Social Security payroll taxes. Unfortunately, you have to be compensated for your work in order to be taxed on it. Most stay-at-home parents or homemakers simply aren’t getting paid for the invaluable work they do at home.

When You Might Qualify for DIB

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Now, if you’ve been a stay-at-home parent or homemaker and have freelanced on the side, you may be able to qualify for DIB. It depends on whether or not you’ve paid taxes on the income you’ve generated from any side jobs you may have had over the years. It also depends on whether or not your paid work was frequent or infrequent. Let’s say you had an online shop, for example, or sold your goods at the Evansville Homemakers Fine Arts and Craft Show. If you received a small but steady income on which you paid taxes, you may be able to qualify.

However, the problem with these side jobs is that you have to prove that your disability now prohibits you from continuing to do them. Let’s say you ran an online shop selling hand-knitted scarves for years before you were paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident. It’d be hard to argue that you couldn’t continue working from a desk and knitting simply because of your disability.

The other scenario in which you may qualify for DIB is if you apply on your spouse’s record. You may still be eligible even if you are divorced from your spouse or your spouse is deceased.

Your Other Option: Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

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If you’re a homemaker or stay-at-home parent, your best option for disability benefits is to apply for supplemental security income. SSI is available to everyone, regardless of your history of paid, taxed work.

However, SSI has criteria of its own. In addition to proving that you’re medically incapable of continuing to work, you’ll also have to meet certain household income limitations. That means that if your spouse is still working and bringing in enough money to live on, you likely won’t be able to qualify for SSI.

Help from an Evansville Disability Attorney

Stay-at-home parents and homemakers are invaluable to the functioning of society. Without them, family-focused cities like Evansville simply wouldn’t survive. It’s frustrating, then, that they may not qualify for disability benefits like other workers can.

However, some homemakers still may qualify for disability benefits. If you think you may be the exception, you’ll need an experienced Evansville disability attorney on your side to fight for your rights. Call Hensley Legal Group today or contact us online for a free conversation about your potential case. Our Evansville disability lawyers are ready to help.