SSDI Requirements and Qualifications

Social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits are available to people who have worked in the past and have suffered from a disability that makes it impossible for them to continue to earn a living. SSDI benefits are earned by individuals while they work and are paid for through payroll deductions. People who are unable to work due to a disability should be aware that they may be eligible to collect these benefits to help pay for their basic needs. Legal professionals can help individuals better understand SSDI eligibility.

How Much Work Do You Need?

While the basic requirement for qualifying for SSDI benefits is being disabled, people who are eligible to collect SSDI must have work history. This work history must be recent in order to count toward the minimum work history needed.

Social security work credits are earned each year that a person works at a job that deducts money from each paycheck to go toward the federal insurance program. Self-employed individuals pay into this insurance coverage through estimated payments or as a lump payment with their tax return each year. Workers can earn a maximum of four work credits each year.

Credits are earned based on the income earned by an individual. This amount is adjusted each year to reflect inflation. The 2013 income amount that equals one work credit it $1,160. People who earn $4,640 or more per year earn the maximum four work credits.

Determining how many work credits are needed in order to qualify for SSDI benefits is not always easy, but there is a general rule that individuals can use to determine how many work credits they need. Most people need to have 40 works credits, and half of these credits must be earned within 10 years of the date of application for SSDI benefits. However, people who are too young to have earned 40 work credits may still be eligible for SSDI benefits.

What They Mean By “Disability”

The Social Security Administration (SSA) only offers SSDI benefits to people who suffer from a long-term disability that makes it completely impossible for a person to work. People who can work in a different position are often not eligible for SSDI benefits. Depending on the amount of work, the ability to work part-time can also affect eligibility.

SSDI benefits are only available to people who are expected to suffer from a disability for at least one year. People who suffer from a disability that is expected to result in death may be eligible for benefits as well.

The SSA will determine whether a person can work in a different position. If a person cannot work in any position , the SSA will consider the person’s condition to be a total disability. Once a person reaches age 50, there are particular rules that must be applied regarding the person’s past work and other work which they can perform.

How They Decide If You Are Disabled

The SSA goes through a list of questions in order to determine whether a person is disabled. The answers to these questions help the SSA evaluate each individual situation in order to make a decision.

– Is the individual currently working?

People cannot earn more than $1,040 per month in order to qualify for SSDI benefits.

– Can the disability be considered to be severe?

Conditions suffered by applicants must be severe enough to significantly limit their ability to complete job tasks.

– Has the disability been listed by the SSA?

The SSA maintains a list of disabilities that are recognized as being severe enough to qualify a person for SSDI benefits. However, applicants must meet certain conditions related to their disability in order to qualify with a listed disability.

– Could the applicant work in a position that they held in the past?

Work history will be evaluated to determine if the individual could handle job tasks related to a past position.

– Is it possible for the individual to work in a different job?

The SSA will evaluate each case to determine whether the applicant could find a different position.

Special Situations

People who have a special circumstance may still be eligible to collect benefits if they do not meet the qualifications listed above. For example, blind individuals can earn more than other disabled individuals and still qualify for SSDI benefits. Family members may be able to collect SSDI benefits after an applicant has passed away if the SSA approves the application.

Some people are eligible to have their application for benefits expedited. The average wait time for an application is five months, but some people need their benefits much more quickly. Military veterans represent one group that is eligible to have their application expedited.

Getting Help With Applying

Applying for SSDI benefits is a time-consuming process that is confusing and frustrating for people who need these benefits to pay for food, housing and other basic necessities. SSDI lawyers can help individuals navigate the application process and understand eligibility requirements. I have ten years of experience in social security cases and appeals, and am ready to fight for your benefits. Contact me today to get started on your case.

Ruth F. Kolb, Esquire has been practicing social security disability law since 2003 handling all levels of representation from initial claims through all stages of appeal.