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What is the age requirement?

A common question we frequently get on our Social Security Disability forum is, “Is there an age requirement to get SSDI or SSI benefits?” This blog will specifically address the age requirements for both SSDI and SSI and how they differ from one another.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is awarded to claimants of all ages. Whether you are just born or over the age of 65 years of age you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income if you can prove that you are aged (65 years of age), blind or disabled.

The disability determination process is the same for both SSI and SSDI. To win benefits you must be able to prove that your condition is so severe you are unable to work for at least 12 continuous months. Children, however, do not have to prove that they cannot work but rather must prove that their condition is “marked and severe.” Claimants must also have VERY limited income and resources which eliminates the ability of many claimants to qualify for SSI benefits even if they are very disabled.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

For SSDI claimants must work and earn work credits. For this reason it is less about how old you are and more about whether or not you have sufficient work credits to receive SSDI when you become disabled.

For instance, claimants can be less than 24 years of age and still qualify for SSDI benefits, but they must have earned at least six work credits in the three years before they become disabled.

On average it would take 1.5 years to earn this many work credits (workers can receive one credit for each $1,120 of earnings, up to the maximum of four credits per year (in 2012)), so it may be difficult for some claimants to qualify for SSDI if they are less than 20 years of age.

Additional benefits offered to disabled children

There is one other type of benefit which is offered to disabled children who are over 18 years of age but who became disabled prior to the age of 22. This benefit is called an SSDI child’s benefit because it is paid based on the parent’s Social Security earnings record.

This benefit can be a bit confusing because the child originally earned auxiliary benefits from the work record of one of their parents, but they became disabled and are allowed to continue to earn this benefit even after the majority of other dependent children are no longer entitled to SSDI auxiliary benefits.

In this specific situation a claimant could be earning benefits without having qualified under their own work record or without qualifying for SSI.

If you have applied for SSI benefits the question is less about your age and more about whether or not you have a condition which the SSA considers automatically disabling (generally conditions which are listed on the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments or Blue Book) or you have sufficient medical evidence to prove you do not have the residual capacity to work.

If you have applied for SSDI the question of disability is similar to what is mentioned above but you will also have to have enough work credits to be considered insured.
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