Am I eligible for Social Security Disability benefits?

Social Security eligibility requirements for disability benefits depends on the five-step evaluation process used by the Social Security Administration (SSA), which considers the severity of your impairment and your ability to work.

Considering these five questions before you apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can help you determine if you’re eligible:

  1. How severe is your medical condition?
  2. Is your condition included on the SSA’s Listing of Impairments?
  3. What is your current work status?
  4. Can you do the work you did before?
  5. Can you do any other work?

At Fields Law Firm, we’re here to answer your questions about Social Security eligibility requirements so you can get the disability benefits you need.

It costs nothing to get answers to your questions –

Will the SSA consider me disabled?

SSA Disability Benefits are typically only available for people and relatives of people who are “disabled.” Social Security defines disability as a medical condition that renders a person unable to work and is expected to last at least one year or result in death. This is a very strict definition of disability. Some insurance programs will pay partial disability or short-term disability; however, Social Security does not.

According to the SSA, you are disabled if:

  • You cannot do the work you did before.
  • You cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition.
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or will result in death.

Talk to Fields Law today if you have questions about your Social Security eligibility requirements. Our Social Security Disability lawyers have years of experience, and we can guide you through the process of applying for benefits.

SSDI Eligibility

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays money to some disabled workers and some of their family members. SSDI benefits are available for disabled workers, their disabled surviving spouses, and children (disabled before age 22) of disabled, retired or deceased workers. In general, to meet the SSDI eligibility requirements, a person must be disabled and meet two different earnings tests:

  1. A “recent work” test based on your age at the time you became disabled; and
  2. A “duration of work” test to show that you worked long enough under Social Security.

Listed below are the rules for how much work a person needs to meet the “recent work” test and the “duration of work” test for SSDI eligibility based on that person’s age when the disability began. The rules are based on the calendar quarter when the person turned or will turn a certain age.

The Recent Work Test generally requires that people have worked 5 out of the 10 years before they become disabled.

The Duration of Work Test generally requires that the person have an average of five years of work if they are between ages 30 and 60. People ages 27 and younger need three years of work. Certain blind workers only have to meet the “duration of work” test.

The money a person has paid into Social Security through taxes each year determines the amount of SSA Disability Benefits for SSDI.

Rules for the “Recent Work Test”

If a person became disabled:Then the person needs approximately:
The quarter of or before the person turns 241 ½ years of work during the three years ending with the quarter the disability began.
The quarter after the person turns 24 but before the person turns 31Work for half of the time for the period starting with the quarter the person turns 21 and ending with the quarter the person becomes disabled.
The quarter the person turns 31 or olderWork for five years of the 10 year period that ends with the quarter the disability starts.

Also, as mentioned above, some people other than the disabled worker may meet the SSDI eligibility requirements based on their relationship to the disabled person.

SSDI Eligibility for Family Members
Some family members of disabled workers may meet the SSDI eligibility requirements. These people include:

  • Spouses age 62 and older;
  • Spouses who are caring for a disabled person’s child who is disabled or younger than 16;
  • Unmarried children including adopted children under age 18 or age 19 if they are in elementary or high school full time; and
  • Unmarried children age 18 or older if they have a disability (defined by Social Security’s definition of a disabled adult) that started before they were age 22.

SSA Disability Benefits

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two different types of disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both are designed for people who meet Social Security’s definition of “disabled.”

Supplemental Security Income
SSA Disability Benefits for SSI are available for some people with little or no income and resources. The Social Security Administration manages the SSI program. However, SSI is not paid for by Social Security taxes. SSI is paid for by U.S. Treasury general funds, not the Social Security trust funds. SSI makes monthly payments to people who have low income and few resources and are age 65 or older, blind, or disabled.

An SSA Disability Benefits Application for SSI cannot be filed online. It must be completed in person either at your local Social Security office or over the phone. A person can, however, begin the SSA Disability Application for SSI benefits online through Social Security’s website by completing the online Disability Report Adult.

After the Adult Disability Report is complete, you will print and sign an authorization that will allow the release of your medical records. You will mail this authorization to your local Social Security Office, and someone will call you to schedule a phone appointment to complete the SSI Application for SSA Disability Benefits.