First Steps to Getting Social Security Disability: Do I Qualify?
There are two kinds of disability insurance provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA): Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Social Security Disability Insurance is the larger of the two programs, intended for workers who have become disabled and are no longer able to do their job, while Supplemental Security Income is intended for disabled people who have limited work experience and have limited income and resources.
Do I Qualify?
What is a Qualifying Disability?
The SSA has a very strict definition of a disability, and this tends to be the most daunting aspect of applying for Social Security benefits for most recently disabled people – which is why it’s important to have an attorney at your side when you start the process.
The SSA considers a person disabled if they meet three main criteria: they can’t do the work they previously did, they can’t adjust to other work because of their condition, and their disability has lasted or will last for over a year – or result in death.
For more information on whether or not your disability qualifies, you can take a look at the SSA Blue Book, where disabilities are listed. Keep in mind this document is primarily intended for medical professionals and attorneys though, so it may be difficult to interpret on your own.
Other Qualifying Information
The Social Security Administration will also want to know other key information to see if you qualify. Are you working? Generally, you cannot be earning more than $1260 to qualify. Is your condition considered severe? If your condition prevents you from lifting, walking, standing or doing other basic work for 12 months or more, it’s considered severe.
These and other considerations are best handled between you, your attorney, medical professionals, and the Social Security Administration.
What are Work Credits and How Many Do I Need?
According to the SSA guidelines, you must have worked long and recently enough to receive SSDI. Work credits are based on yearly income, whether it be from self-employment or wages from a job. Although the number of dollars required for each work credit changes from year to year, this year it is $1,410.
Every year, you can earn a maximum of 4 work credits – meaning if you earned $5,600 this year, you have earned all your work credits for the year.
To qualify for SSDI, you need a total of 40 work credits or ten years of work (and paying into the Social Security System.) Younger workers can qualify with fewer work credits.