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SSDI and SSI- How do I know if I can apply?

Can I get SSDI?


Recently on our disability forum we had a user ask, “How do I know if I can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?” What I love about this question is that this applicant wants to know the requirements and whether they meet them BEFORE they submit an SSI or SSDI application to the SSA and clog up the system.

There are millions of disability applications which are submitted to the SSA each year, and the waiting time to get benefits is months, if not years. Part of the problem is that many workers submit an application but they do not meet even the most basic nonmedical requirements. Their application may be immediately rejected, but they have wasted the time, money and energy of the Social Security Administration. They have also made it much more difficult for other applicants to get their benefits quickly and easily.


What should I do before I submit my SSDI application?


Before you submit your application it is important to do some research. Does it take hours and hours to figure out if you can apply for SSDI or SSI? No, in fact, most claimants fail to meet the same requirements so you can save yourself some time by reviewing the most basic requirements:

1.  Do you have enough work credits? According to the SSA, “The number of work credits needed for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.”

If you do not have enough work credits you will be automatically denied SSDI. You may be able to apply for SSI benefits, but in that case you need to review the requirements for SSI.

2. Is your condition going to last 12 continuous months? This is another tricky requirement. If you are pregnant or you have a short term health condition you will be automatically denied. The SSA does not offer any type of short term benefits.

3. Can you work or are you working? This is the third and most basic requirement that stops claimants from getting benefits. If you are currently working too much or if you are able to work then you are NOT disabled according to the SSA and you need not apply for either SSI or SSDI benefits.

4. SSI only- If you do not have work credits you can apply for SSI benefits but you need to verify if your resource and income level is below the allowable limit. If you make too much money or own too many assets you will be automatically denied.

Finally, you can also call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 and talk to them BEFORE you submit your application. You can also use their BEST system which is an online screening tool which will evaluate your eligibility BEFORE you apply.

Do not waste your time and do not waste the time of the SSA. Find out if you meet the most basic requirements before you apply.


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