Disability and SSDI Requirements

Being eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits means you can receive money if you are unable to work. To know if you meet the SSDI eligibility requirements, the Social Security Administration (SSA) takes into account 2 factors. First is the length of time you have worked and the second is the severity of your disability. 

Knowing how to apply for SSDI benefit payouts can be a daunting task. If you suffer from a chronic illness or have severe limitations, you already have much to think about. 

That is why this article helps you to easily learn about the SSDI eligibility requirements and how to apply.


What is SSDI Eligibility?

People who have worked for a certain number of years and pay into the SSDI scheme are eligible for disability benefits. In order to qualify, your limitations or chronic illness should be so severe that it is expected you can’t work for at least one year.

In some cases, certain members of your family could also be eligible for disability insurance benefits. This could mean that your spouse or disabled children could qualify for payments if you have enough work credits.

If the SSA decides that you are not eligible for SSDI benefits, you may be able to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The difference between the SSDI and SSI programs is that SSI is not based on your income or assets. However, the medical eligibility requirements for both programs are the same.

Let’s look in more detail at the two basic requirements for SSDI eligibility – medical requirements and financial requirements. 

Social Security Disability Insurance Eligibility Requirements – Medical 

If you suffer from a chronic illness or severely limiting condition, you may eligible for disability benefits. 

According to the SSA, a person is only eligible for benefits if they have a total disability. This means that you would now be unable to work due to your medical condition. The SSA sets out the Listing of Impairments that can allow a person to qualify for receiving Social Security benefits. 

If you don’t meet the strict impairment requirements, you may have to show evidence of functional limitations caused by a medical condition.

It is also expected that your disability will last for 12 months or longer. 

To qualify for benefits under SSDI, the Social Security Administration also takes into account your ability to carry out other types of work. For example, you won’t be eligible for disability benefits if you can work in a job that is less physical or mentally stressful than your current one. 

If you are partially disabled and cannot work, you may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation. The Department of Labor set out the requirements for Workers’ Comp. 

SSDI Eligibility Financial and Legal Requirements

Your eligibility for receiving payment through the SSDI program also depends on your earnings. 

First of all, the SSA determines the level of substantial gainful activity (SGA). You can find out the current SGA level on their website. If you are unable to earn more than the SGA level for disability, you can apply for disability benefits. 

Accumulated work credits are another part of the financial requirements. You get one credit when you earn over a certain amount of money in every quarter of the year. It is possible to earn up to 4 credits per year. 

In most cases, you should have at least 40 credits to be eligible. However, if you are younger, you can still apply for disability benefits with fewer credits. It is important to note that in all cases, 20 of your work credits must have been earned in the 10 years immediately prior to becoming disabled. 

If you don’t have enough work credits, you may still qualify for SSI payments due to total disability and lack of earnings.

Family Eligibility and Children with Disabilities

In certain cases, other family members may be eligible for SSDI if you meet the requirements. These family members can include your spouse or former spouse if you are divorced. 

The SSDI eligibility requirements for spouses or dependents are that they should be at least 62 years old or caring for a child under 16 or a disabled child. 

If you qualify for a monthly SSDI payment check, your minor children may also receive benefits. The criteria are that they should be unmarried and younger than 18 years old. These can be your biological children, adopted ones, or dependent stepchildren. 

Children with disabilities eligibility

If you have disabled children who are younger than 18, they can also receive benefits if you qualify for the SSDI program. 

Also, if your child develops a chronic illness or severe disability before they turn 22, they could be eligible for benefits. This depends on whether you receive disability or are in retirement. 

The SSA sets out the same listings of impairments for disabled children as they do for adults. 

How to Apply for SSDI Disability Benefits

If you think you meet the eligibility requirements for disability benefits, you can apply online or at your local Social Security office. 

The SSA will use information about your work history and medical condition to determine disability eligibility. 

Information about your work

To be eligible for SSDI payments, you will need to show records of your employment and earnings for the 15 years before you become disabled. These should include W-2 forms and/or your self-employment tax returns for the previous year.

You will have to show any information about Workers’ Comp or other benefits you may have received during this time. 

Information about your medical disability

The Social Security Administration also needs to see full disclosure about your medical condition. 

So, you should collect all the relevant medical records that you have in your possession. You will also need to provide contact information of your doctor or other medical personnel who know about your condition.

Other Information on Disability Eligibility

If your medical condition improves while you are receiving disability benefits, you may no longer be eligible. To re-enter the workplace, you can continue to receive Social Security benefits and Medicare up to 9 months during a work trial period. If you show that you no longer have a disability, your Social Security income and Medicare benefits will stop. 

However, if your disability returns and you have to stop working again, you will be eligible for Social Security payments without having to reapply. 

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