One of the most common questions we are asked is, “Do I qualify for social security disability?” Below we have listed the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) & Supplemental Security Income (SSI) qualifications. If you are uncertain whether or not you qualify, then contact our offices today.
There are two primary qualifiers for Social Security:
- A non-medical requirement: you must have worked enough time in a job or jobs that was covered by Social Security
- A medical disability requirement: you must have a medical condition that qualifies as a disability accordering to the SSA
Does my work experience qualify me for disability benefits?
In order to qualify for your disability benefits, you must have worked both long enough and recently enough. To determine whether your work history qualifies you, the Social Security Administration uses a “credit” system.
The number of credits needed to qualify for benefits depends on your age when you became disabled. Typically the number of credits you need is 40. Younger workers may qualify with fewer credits. A pre-determined number of those credits, often half, must have been earned within 10 years of becoming disabled.
How Do I Earn Credits?
Remember, we can help you through this process. Please call our offices if you need assistance. Calculating your Social Security work credits can be a tricky task. Credits are based on your total yearly wages or self-employment income. You can earn a maximum of four credits each year. The amount of income needed for a credit changes from year to year.
For example, if a year’s income requirement for one credit is $1,260, then when you’ve earned $5,040 in that year you have earned your maximum of four credits.
Again, this article is meant to be a guideline for you. Do not hesitate to contact us. We will help you through the process.
What Qualifies As A Disability?
“Disability” under the Social Security program is based on your inability to work. Benefits are not payable for partial or short-term disability, only total disability. The SSA may consider you disabled if:
- You cannot do work that you did before or you are unable to perform the job that you previously held
- The SSA decides that your medical condition(s) prevent(s) you from adjusting to other work
- Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year, or to result in death
Determining Factors For Disability Benefits
The SSA will determine whether or not you are disabled based on five qualifying questions. As listed on the SSA website, here they are (as of July /2016):
- Are you working? If you are working this year and your earnings average more than $1,130 a month, then you generally cannot be considered disabled.
- Is your condition “severe”? Your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered. If it does not, the SSA may determine that you are not disabled.
- Is your condition found on the list of disabling conditions? The SSA maintains a list of severe medical conditions that automatically qualify you as disabled.
- Can you do the work you previously did? If your condition is severe but not at the same or equal level of severity as a medical condition on the list, then the SSA will attempt to determine whether your condition interferes with your ability to do the work you did previously. If it does not, then at this point your claim will be denied.
- Can you do any other type of work? If you cannot do the work you did in the past, then the SSA will attempt to determine whether you are able to adjust to other work. They consider your medical conditions, age, education, past work experience, and any transferable skills you may have. If you cannot adjust to other work, your claim will be approved. If you can adjust to other work, your claim will be denied.
While the majority of people who receive disability benefits are workers who qualify on their own and meet the work and disability requirements we described above, there are a number of “special circumstances” that may still qualify.
- If you are blind or have low vision
- If you are the worker’s widow or widower
- Benefits for a disabled child
- Benefits for wounded warriors & veterans
For more information on whether or not you qualify for any SSDI / SSI benefits, contact our offices.