Everyone who pays income taxes contributes toward Social Security. The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains records and distributes payments to those who qualify for either retirement benefits or disability benefits.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can offer regular payments to individuals with disabling medical conditions. If someone can’t work a job, SSDI can help them pay for groceries and housing costs. However, the SSA maintains strict requirements for SSDI applicants. You generally need to meet the three criteria below to potentially qualify.
You need to have sufficient work credits
Every year that you work, you can accrue up to four work credits with the SSA based on your level of income. The number of credits you have in total and the number accrued over the last 10 years will impact your right to claim benefits. Typically, adults need at least 40 credits, although younger professionals in their 20s and 30s with disabling medical conditions sometimes qualify with fewer credits.
The condition must prevent you from working at all
SSDI is a program for those who are truly unable to work because of an illness, injury or chronic medical condition. While some applicants won’t be able to continue their chosen professions due to their medical conditions, they may not qualify for benefits if they could potentially work a less demanding job, like food service or retail work.
The exception to this rule involves those who have performed decades of manual labor and have limited educational history. These workers may qualify for SSDI even if they could potentially work a less physical job.
The condition needs to be long-lasting
A broken leg would absolutely keep you from working most jobs, but it will also heal in a few months for most people, which means it won’t help you qualify for SSDI benefits. The SSA will not grant benefits to applicants unless their condition will persist for at least 12 months or the rest of their life. Someone who will require 18 months of cancer treatment to recover my qualify, but someone who needs six months of bed rest after a heart attack would not.
Learning the criteria for SSDI benefits can help you decide if it is time for you to apply.