Who's eligible for Social Security Disability benefits?

If you're disabled and unable to work, this doesn't automatically mean that you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI), or that you won't have to fight for the benefits you deserve. Your eligibility for disability income depends on both your work history and disability. Here, we discuss basic eligibility requirements that you need to meet.

What Are the Work History Eligibility Requirements for SSDI?

To meet the work eligibility requirements to qualify for SSDI, you must have worked long enough and recently enough to qualify. Eligibility is based on the number of work credits you have earned. For each quarter of work with income of a certain amount, you can earn one work credit.

The amount of work needed changes, but for example, in 2017, if you earn $1,700 per quarter or more in the year, you would earn four credits for the year.

How many credits you will need to qualify for benefits will depend on your age. These general rules apply:

  • Generally, you must have earned 40 work credits with 20 of them having been earned in the last 10 years.
  • If you're younger than 31 years old, you may qualify for SSDI benefits with fewer work credits.

Disability Requirements for Social Security Disability Benefits

You must also be considered disabled to be eligible for SSDI benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) determines disability by the following requirements:

  • You can no longer perform your former job; and
  • You cannot perform other work due to your medical condition; and
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year, or result in your death.

The SSA maintains a Medically Approved Listing of Impairments. If your medical condition is on the list, you may automatically qualify for benefits. However, if your disability isn't on the list, this doesn't mean you're not entitled to SSDI benefits.

If you don't qualify for SSDI benefits, you may be eligible for Supplement Security Income benefits (SSI). To be approved, you must be disabled and meet strict asset and income rules.

Let Us Help You With Your Social Security Disability Claim

Even if you clearly qualify for SSDI benefits, you shouldn't be surprised if your application for benefits is denied. Unfortunately, the SSA denies many legitimate claims. If you need help filling out your initial application for benefits or fighting for the benefits you deserve, our experienced Social Security disability lawyers are here to help. Call our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.