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SSDI nonmedical requirements for benefits

What do I have to prove to the SSDI?


Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claimants must meet medical as well as nonmedical requirements to win SSDI benefits. Many claimants are surprised to find the Social Security Administration will not even review their SSDI case if they do not meet the nonmedical requirements. This means that you could be severely disabled and not be able to work but you will continue to be denied SSDI because you do not meet the nonmedical requirements.


What are the nonmedical requirements for SSDI?


1.    You must have sufficient work credits to be considered insured for SSDI.

Claimants who have not worked or who have worked but have not paid employment taxes will not have sufficient work credits to be insured for SSDI. 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 there is no reason to appeal your SSDI denial or apply again and again. You will never be approved for SSDI. You also cannot borrow a spouse’s credits or purchase more credits for yourself. The only way to earn credits is to work and pay taxes.

2.    You must meet the citizenship requirements for SSDI.


Generally, SSDI recipients must be American citizens and as a U.S. citizen you can receive SSDI if you have sufficient work credits and you live abroad. Some non-citizens who are permanent residents, veterans or active military, however, may also qualify for SSDI if they have paid enough employment taxes. Other nonresidents will have to meet other criteria which can be discussed with the Social Security Administration.

3.    You cannot be working or making too much money.


It’s interesting how many claimants ask if they can work while they receive SSDI benefits. But if you can work too much the SSA will decide you are not disabled. So while you may be able to work VERY part-time, if you can work too much or if you make too much money then the SSA will automatically consider you NOT disabled and you will be denied SSDI benefits.

So what is substantial gainful activity? Substantial gainful activity is working and making more than $1010 per month in 2013 for the non-blind. But before you get too excited, consider work may also be considered substantial if it is comparable to work that is done for pay even if no pay or profit is realized.

For example, if you are performing “volunteer” work for 35-40 hours per week the SSA is likely to determine that you are not disabled because the capacity needed to complete this work is comparable to what is needed for other types of paying work.

If you are working too much, unless you quit your job, you will NEVER be approved for SSDI or SSI benefits, regardless of the severity of your health condition.

The nonmedical requirements outlined above are the very first requirements you must meet before the SSA will bother requesting your medical records and reviewing the severity of your condition.
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