Do I Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Photo of people reviewing paperwork

In many ways, Social Security is a safety net for hard working Americans. If you have diligently worked, and kept up with your taxes, then benefits from Social Security can help you retire. The system has even worked out a way to help those individuals who find themselves unable to work before retirement age. Benefits for these individuals are called Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), but it can be complicated to qualify for these benefits.

What Are the Qualifications for Social Security Disability Benefits?

In order to qualify for Social Security benefits, you must have worked for a certain number of years, on average at least 10. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses “work credits” to measure this amount of time. Earning $1,300 in wages qualifies as a work credit, and you are limited to four a year. That means you have to earn at least $5,200 yearly for 10 years to qualify for Social Security, but if you are seeking disability benefits, these work credit requirements work a bit differently.

Table showing how Social Security Work Credits work

Depending on your age, you must have a specific number of work credits to qualify for benefits. As long as you meet the work credit requirements in the table above, then you meet the work requirement portion of qualification. The next qualification measure that must be met is the evaluation of your disability.

What Disabilities Qualify Me for SSDI Benefits?

The SSA provides a list of conditions that qualify as disabling, but this list doesn’t include every disability a person can face. To determine if an applicant has a qualifying condition, the SSA uses three guidelines:

  1. The applicant must not be able to work their previous jobs due to their condition.
  2. The applicant’s condition must prevent them from doing a new job.
  3. The applicant’s condition must be expected to last for at least a year and/or result in that person’s death.

If you meet these requirements, then you may qualify for disability benefits. However, the application process can be complex and long. If your application is denied, getting the SSA to reconsider can take months or even years, which is why it is important to get your paperwork right from the very beginning. Contacting a disability attorney at the beginning of the process can help put you on the right track, and that could help you speed up the application process.


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