What Are the Requirements for Social Security Disability Insurance?

by Dec 21, 2017Disability Benefits

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To meet the requirements for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and qualify for benefits, you must have a fully disabling medical condition, meaning you cannot reasonably sustain meaningful, gainful employment of any kind.

You also must have a sufficient work history that includes paying Social Security taxes, the primary source of funding for SSDI. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a formula, albeit a complex one, for determining if you meet the program’s work history requirement.

The legal team at the Disability Advantage Group, focuses on disability law, particularly working with our clients to get them approved for SSDI benefits. We can evaluate your medical records and work history to determine your chances of qualifying for SSDI—or perhaps for the SSA’s other disability program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

We have helped many clients win benefits, and we can put together a thorough, compelling claim on your behalf. For a free consultation with a disability attorney, call us today at 865-566-0800.

What Are the Disability Requirements for SSDI?

The SSA does not grant disability benefits unless it considers an applicant totally disabled. That means we must demonstrate—using strong evidence—that your condition renders you completely unable to sustain meaningful, gainful employment.

We have two possible ways to do this:

  • Show that your condition meets the criteria of an SSA Blue Book listing; or
  • Demonstrate that your condition has a functionally equivalent effect on your work capacity.

The Blue Book is a master list put together by the SSA that catalogs every medical condition that qualifies for benefits, provided that you meet the diagnostic criteria listed under the condition’s Blue Book entry. Blue Book criteria might include things like numerical levels that must appear in lab testing, frequency of hospitalizations, or proof that you are undergoing a certain type of treatment.

If your condition does not meet the criteria for a Blue Book listing, we can get you approved for benefits by convincing the SSA that your condition has a similar effect on your work capacity to one listed in in the Blue Book. With the help of your doctor, we can complete a residual functional capacity (RFC) test. This exam offers objective data to show the specific areas of your life that your condition directly impacts and the degree of these effects.

What Are the Income and Work History Requirements for SSDI?

The SSA uses a work credit system to determine if your work history is sufficient to qualify for SSDI. You earn credits each year based on the amount of income you earn. Your current age and the age at which you became disabled determine the number of credits you need to qualify for SSDI.

As of 2017, you earn one credit for each $1,300 you earn in a calendar year. The SSA caps works credits at four per year, so any yearly earnings above $5,200 do not result in additional credits.

As far as how many total credits you need to qualify for SSDI benefits, the formula is as follows.

Under Age 24

If you are younger than 24 when you become disabled, you must have a total of six credits over the three-year period immediately prior to your disability.

Between Age 24 and 31

If you are between 24 and 31, you must have worked at least half the time between the date you became disabled and age 21. In other words, if you become disabled at 26, you must have at least 10 credits—or four credits for two-and-a-half of the past five years.

Age 31 and Older

If you are older than 31, you must refer to the SSA’s work credit chart to determine how many credits you need. Usually, it is between 20 and 40, and the requirement is higher the older you are. We can go over the chart with you and help you determine if you qualify.

What If I Do Not Qualify for SSDI?

If you do not qualify for SSDI for medical reasons, we can either appeal the SSA’s decision, or you can seek benefits from another source, such as a private insurer. We can go over your denial with you and give you an honest assessment of your chances on appeal.

If an insufficient work history keeps you from qualifying, there is a good chance you are eligible for SSI. SSI is the government’s other disability program. It is exclusively for low-income, low-asset individuals and families. Again, we can help you with this process.

How Can I Schedule a Free Consultation With an SSDI Attorney?

You can count on the team at the Disability Advantage Group, to help you put together a compelling claim for SSDI benefits. To schedule your free consultation, call 865-566-0800 today.