Eligibility for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration
The Social Security Administration (SSA) estimates 3 out of 10 Americans may become disabled prior to retirement age. Not everyone who is unable to work is considered disabled by the Social Security Administration. If the Social Security Administration determines you are disabled you may be able to qualify for either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Each of these disability benefit programs is administered the United States federal government and require claimants to meet very specific qualifications.
Social Security Disability Insurance
Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI is offered to disabled workers who have contributed to the Social Security Trust Fund through their employment taxes and have earned enough work credits to qualify. The number of work credits needed to qualify for SSDI may vary, but most workers over the age of 30 will need 40 work credits. Most claimants working full-time can accrue up to four credits per year. In addition to accumulating work credits, SSDI claimants must be determined disabled by the Social Security Administration.
How do you know if you are disabled? Claimants must have a physical or mental impairment which is considered severe and which does not allow them to work for at least 12 months or is expected to result in their death. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will review a claimants medical records, and using their evaluation process, will determine if the claimant is able to perform their current job or any other job in the regional economy given their age, educational background and work experience.
Social Security Disability Insurance requirements:
- Determined disabled by the Social Security Administration.
- Disabled prior to your full retirement age
- Disabled for at least 12 months or your disability is expected to result in death
- Legally allowed to work in the United States
- A United States citizen
- If you are 31 or older you must have paid payroll taxes and worked for 5 of the last 10 years. If you are younger than 31 there may other qualifications.
Supplemental Security Income
Supplemental Security Income, the second disability program administered by the federal government, is for the disabled, blind or aged who are disabled and have limited income and resources. Claimants who are attempting to qualify for SSI disability benefits must meet the same criteria as SSDI applicants. Claimants must be found medically disabled, either physically or mentally, with a disability which is so severe they will not be able to work for at least 12 months.
Supplemental Security Income, unlike Social Security Disability Insurance, is a needs based program, and claimants do not have to accumulate work credits to qualify. Claimants must, however, meet non-disability qualifications and have limited resources and income. Resource and income limits are established by the Social Security Administration and can include: stocks, bonds, cars, houses, bank accounts, trust funds and pensions. It is important to discuss your resources and income with a Social Security Disability lawyer to determine if you are eligible to file for Supplemental Security Income benefits. Claimants who do not meet the income and resource qualification will not be awarded Supplemental Security Income benefits regardless of their mental or physical disabilities.