1 in 6 Americans or approximately 64 million US citizens are on the Social Security Disability Benefits among many other Social Security Administration programs. While 4 out of 5 times the beneficiaries are people aged over 50 years, for the rest 1 in 5 people are young disability beneficiaries for various qualified disabilities such as degenerative disk disorder, arthritis, etc.
How to Qualify for Social Security Disability
Whether or not you qualify for SSDI will depend on various factors considered by the SSA. Below are some of the SSDI requirements (non-medical or medical) you must meet in order to qualify.
- I)Get your Social Security Number
This unique 9-digit social security number is your first and continuous line of contact with the social security administration. You will need it to be able to apply for and keep receiving benefits. All your social security information, including the FICA or AIME taxes you paid, will be included in your social security card. Hence, it is vital that you must get your unique social security number from the SSA local office or apply online.
- II)Your past work should be in the SSA's list of work/employments
The next primary SSDI requirement is to have worked in a job that is listed in the SSA's list of eligible work and/or employment categories. While it may seem obvious, the process is a bit more complicated than it seems. It is necessary for the SSA in order to evaluate whether you meet certain financial and physical requirements to be eligible for SSDI benefits. For instance, once you have filed for SSDI, the SSA disability examiner will look into your work history to check whether you're able to take up similar jobs.
- III)The last 5 years of your work must be within the last 10 years at the time of SSDI application
While the basic work time requirement for SSDI qualification is 35 years of work in your lifetime, it varies depending on your age. Hence, at the time of application, you must have worked 5 of the last 10 years in full or part-time or self-employed work. In some cases, the recipients would need to have worked very recently. There are some exceptions for young disabled such as a 25 years old with 6 hours of work credits and unable to work due to extreme disability. The maximum earnable credits for each year is four i.e., you need to earn a total of $5880 to earn 4 total credits per year. However, if you're young, the credits required would be counted as half of the years from the age of 21 to your disability. For instance, if you were 21 when you started working and became disabled at 28, there a 7 total years of timeline, however, you will need to have worked a total of 3.5 years (half of that time) to be eligible for SSDI benefits.
- IV)Your medical condition must be listed in the SSA's Blue Book of Impairments
Most people think that having a medical condition is enough to qualify for disability. Not true. The Social Security Administration has a list of medical conditions or impairments in its Blue Book of Impairments that qualify for SSDI benefits income. The medical condition leading to disability must actually prevent you from doing certain types of work in order to be rendered as 'sufficient' disability. The SSA defines medical conditions for SSDI benefits as 'impairments or disabilities so severe that they prevent an individual from doing any kind of substantial gainful activity (SGA)'.
To determine your medical conditions, the SSA will look into your whole disability and medical records related to it. The procedure may also involve your doctor's statements, employer testimonials, caretaker testimonials, laboratory results, etc. Also, once you've won disability, as long as your medical condition persists, your disability benefits would continue. However, you will need to update the SSA of any new changes in your medical conditions. Moreover, if your disability examiner finds your disability to continue beyond 12 months or 1 full year, then you're completely eligible for SSDI benefits.
- V)You must not be earning more than the Threshold Monthly Income by SSA
Although the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is different from the need-based Social Security Income (SSI), the SSDI also requires you to earn below a specific threshold in monthly income to qualify for disability benefits. So, in order for SSDI eligibility, your monthly income must be below $1170/month.
In addition to the above, if you get your disability benefits at full retirement age, your benefits will be transferred to your retirement amount known as 'retirement benefits'. The platform will change, but the award value in cash would remain the same.
Disability Attorney to Qualify for SSDI
At Law Office of Irene Ruzin, we understand that going through the painful physical and emotional turmoil of a disability may be challenging enough. Navigating through the complicated process of SSDI benefits is another. Hence, our expert disability attorneys are here to help you win those disability benefits. You may contact us through email or phone right away.