Am I Eligible for 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. Contact our legal staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week—just dial 1-888-343-5375 or fill out our free contact request form.

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 24 1 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 31 Work 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 older Work 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.
The easiest way to apply for SSDI benefits is online through Social Security’s website, www.ssa.gov. Simply click on “Disability” at the top of the homepage and follow the links to apply for Social Security Disability benefits.

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.



John Kelley
John Kelley
21:38 16 Oct 18
I was having issues with an insurance company and I hired fields law firm. The people there are amazing and always quick to answer questions even a couple times on the weekend. I worked with Blake amazing person and very informative on my case. I would highly recommend this firm to any of my friends.read more
Michael Frazier
Michael Frazier
23:58 10 Oct 18
I had the pleasure to work with Michael and Annie on my LTD case. When my claim was denied by the insurance carrier, Michael didn't hesitate to take them on with an appeal. He worked diligently on the appeal and ultimately won this for me. Mind you, this wasn't a huge case but he treated me like it was and as if I was the only case he was representing. He kept me abreast of vital information, it was clear that he knew his stuff and wasn't afraid to take on the big insurance company. Michael was much more than I ever expected given that our relationship was entirely remote, handled by telephone and email only. Not only is he a strong lawyer, he treated me with compassion and respect. I am beyond pleased with him and the Fields Law team. Michael cares about his clients and he gets the job done for them because he knows how impactful an injury can be to both a person's well-being and their financial security. I highly recommend Michael and Fields Law whether you are local to their Minnesota offices or out of state like myself.read more
Melanie Eason
Melanie Eason
20:12 29 Aug 18
Fields Law Firm is great. Patrick Kramer, my lawyer, is fantastic. He and his legal assistant Samantha K. have handled my case for several years. They have kept me informed every step of the way. They are both easy to contact. I have both of their phone numbers and email addresses and they respond promptly to any messages I leave. Without their help I would not have been able to get the disability company to fulfill their promises. It is a relief to leave all the dealings with the disability insurance company in their hands.read more
Jeannie Kerr
Jeannie Kerr
23:37 15 Sep 18
My experience with Merrick Williams of Fields Law Firm has been truly above and beyond satisfactory. His knowledge and professionalism have guided me through a very difficult time. He and his assistant Angela were readily available to answer any questions and address my concerns. I highly recommend him as an attorney and will use his services again if necessary in the future.read more
ebon jordan
ebon jordan
19:51 27 Sep 18
Field Law Firm was great my lawyer Zach Schmoll was more than I could ask for. He always kept me in the loop and explain everything perfectly, got back to me whenever I called less than 24 hrs and was a extremely nice guy. This guy is young and knows what he is doing so please don’t let the age fool you. I had a wonderful experience with Field Law and will refer anyone with legal matters to them.read more
Edward Johnson
Edward Johnson
23:11 31 Oct 18
I highly recommend Fields law Firm if you need some no nonsense attorneys to represent you. I was treated courteously and efficiently each and every time by Mike and his associates. They settled my Long Term Disability case in a timely fashion. and was pleased with the results. Thanks again Mike and Fields Law Firm. You are the best!read more
19:19 09 Nov 18
Fields Law Firm is simply the very best when it comes to representing you & fighting for your rights! They are a "10 Star" Law Firm hands down! Michael Kemmmitt & Sarah Christensen were simply outstanding to work with. They took over my long term disability case after I was being denied my benefits & gave me the moral support & law experience that I needed to win my case. They were supportive throughout my case & they will fight tooth & nail to assure your rights are not being denied. It is so rare to find a law firm that treats you like YOU are the most important person to them. I HIGHLY recommend Fields Law Firm. They are truly advocates for justice.read more
Ben Chadwick
Ben Chadwick
23:20 12 Nov 18
Michael and Samantha were always giving me updates in a very timely manner. They were very good at getting back with me if I had questions, and they didn't have the answer at the time of our discussion. They were very thorough in their handling of my case, and we received a positvie ruling due to their efficiency and expertise. Thank you very much Michael and Samantha, I appreciate all that you did to help me with my case. I would definitely refer people to you, as well as use you in the future. Benjamin Chadwick.read more
Michael Rosa
Michael Rosa
00:01 01 Dec 18
Evan was absolutely fantastic. He was knowledgable, informative and patient. Evan Sanford and Fields law took my case when other lawyers pretty much told me to pound sand. The outcome was a substantial amount of money that will take the pressure off of me for years to come. I would absolutely recommend Fields law.read more
17:49 02 Dec 18
It is very difficult for the average disabled person to battle the disability insurance and Social Security disability industries. I was very sick, exhausted, and stressed out about being denied and told that I can work by someone who doesn't even know me! The paperwork was daunting and had to be filled out multiple times. I chose Field's Law Firm after finding them online. They took over my claims and handled all of the paperwork and appeals that were necessary. They even went to a hearing with me to the Social Security Judge. Field's also kept me in the loop every step of the way. This allowed me to focus more on myself and greatly reduced my financial anxiety. They don't get paid unless you get paid. You truly have nothing to lose and everything to gain! I am truly appreciative of Field's Law Firm!read more
Raphael Roe
Raphael Roe
00:35 04 Dec 18
I had the pleasure of working with Patrick Kramer for my LTD appeal. He walked me through the entire process and answered all my questions. Patrick called me anytime there was new information and went above and beyond what I expected. It was one of the most stress free processes I’ve had to deal with thanks to the team at Field’s! Thank you for all your hard work! -Michael Roe, Monroe, MIread more
Donna Williams
Donna Williams
19:07 06 Dec 18
My attorney, Blake Bauer and paralegal, Samantha Kurschner are wonderful. Whenever I need to speak with one of them, they are always available. If I have to leave a message, my call is promptly returned. They worked diligently on my case and won my LTD claim. I highly recommend Fields Law Firm.read more
Lori Anderson
Lori Anderson
20:33 04 Dec 18
Jodie has been a wonderful person and on top of my social security disability claim. The attorneys are great and very thorough with what they do. Would recommend Fielsd Law Firm to everyone. Thank you for everything you have done for me.
Todd Burge
Todd Burge
15:40 11 Dec 18
I worked with Attorney Hans Lodge on a large debt collection from a creditor. He was able to determine that there was a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and swiftly moved into legal action. This whole matter was completely and quickly resolved within a couple of months. This whole situation could not have turned out any better on my end. I highly recommend working with Hans or any of the attorneys at Fields Law Firm!read more
John Notaro
John Notaro
05:09 09 Jan 19
Fields law represented me with class and always had the answers I needed to know every step of the way. Patrick and Jodie always kept me informed when there were updates to my case with a phone call. I can't recommend Fields law enough. I know I couldn't have won my case without the hard work of their entire team. Thank you all and most importantly how you changed my life for the better.read more
See All Reviews