1. Social Security Disability
  2. /
  3. FAQ
  4. /
  5. What are the eligibility requirements for Social Security Disability?

What are the eligibility requirements for Social Security Disability?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) requirements are more stringent than those for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). To be eligible for SSDI benefits, you must meet the following requirements:

Employed in a Social Security-covered occupation
I’ve worked in that position for five of the last ten years*.
Possess a medical condition that precludes you from working and renders you incapacitated (as defined by the Social Security Administration).

The most frequently cited reason for disqualifying SSDI applicants is a lack of employment in five of the last ten years. However, even if you do not fulfill Social Security’s SSDI eligibility rules, you may still be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Bear in mind that “five of the last ten years” is a guideline, and you may not need to work as long if you are younger.

For instance, a younger adult who gets paralyzed will be expected to work for a shorter period of time than a 60-year-old adult. Depending on your age and the number of work credits you’ve accumulated, you may just need 1.5 years of employment to qualify for SSDI.

Another critical criterion is that you work in a job that requires you to pay Social Security taxes. SSDI is a government-funded program, which means that if you have not contributed to the system, you will be ineligible for payments.

Social Security Disability Insurance Eligibility Criteria

You may be eligible for social security disability insurance (SSDI) if you meet the Social Security Administration’s eligibility requirements (SSA).

The primary SSDI criteria are as follows:

  • Working long enough in a job that required you to pay social security taxes to accrue at least 20 work credits throughout the last decade. This may be accumulated if you worked for at least five years in the preceding ten years. In any work year, the maximum number of work credits gained is four, one for every three months of continuous employment.
  • It is highly unlikely that you will earn at least $1,310 each month for the next 12 months.
  • You have a medical condition that meets the SSA’s criteria for a specific category of disability.

If you do not meet the first condition above, i.e. you do not have enough work credits due to not paying enough payroll taxes that include social security, you may still qualify for social security benefits via the supplementary security income (SSI) pathway.

This is for individuals who have not worked in a long period of time, have limited assets, and a poor income. The obligation to demonstrate an SSA-recognized disability remains in effect.

The most challenging SSDI criteria is that you have a recognized disability severe enough to preclude you from working.

Your medical condition must be listed in the SSA’s Blue Book. This is not straightforward, and approximately half of all SSDI applications are frequently denied, mostly due to inadequate evidence that the disability symptoms are severe enough to justify providing benefits.

It is critical to thoroughly review the Blue Book to see whether your symptoms fit the description and to provide sufficient medical proof to establish a match.

If a Blue Book match cannot be made, there is another approach to meet the requirements for social security, which is to have your doctor do a residual functional capacity assessment (RFC).

The SSA is seeking for clear evidence that your disability prevents you from working and supporting yourself independently. The RFC tests determine what you are physically and, in some situations, psychologically capable of doing depending on the severity of your handicap.

What Are the Requirements for Social Security Benefits Eligibility?

The SSA maintains regional offices around the United States, so there is likely one near you. To make applying for benefits easier, you can do it online, by phone, or in person at your nearest social security office.

Whichever technique you choose, you’ll need to devote some time to assembling the documentation necessary to support your claim. The primary documents you will need to provide with your application are as follows:

  • Birth certificate or other evidence of United States citizenship or valid presence in the United States
  • Any additional benefits received, such as workers’ compensation payments, as evidenced by W-2 forms and/or self-employment tax returns for the preceding 12 months.
  • If you were discharged prior to 1968, you should have your military discharge papers.

Medical documentation of your condition, such as a physician’s recent diagnosis, your medical history and records, and the results of recent tests, scans, and x-rays pertinent to your impairment.

The SSA may request additional documents to ascertain your eligibility for SSDI or your medical status. It pays to give as much paperwork as possible in order to avoid claim delays or rejections due to not enough information.

The disability application asks a person a series of questions and requested to provide example responses (the Social Security Administration’s website contains a complete list of questions).

  • Your given name; your given name at birth, if different; • Social security number; if you have already used another number;
  • Birth date and place of origin;
  • Whether you have previously applied for or received a social security benefit, such as SSI or Medicare, or whether you received a benefit as a result of another’s application;
  • Whether you earned recognized social security credits while working in another country;
  • Details about your marital status; the name, age, and social security number of your spouse; the names, ages, and social security numbers of any former spouses;
  • Parents’ and dependent children’s names and ages;
  • Employment history, including previous employers and the length of time spent at each position;
  • The date on which you weren’t able to work anymore and the duration of your inability to work.
  • Worked a job for 5 of the past 10 years*.
  • Possess a medical condition that precludes you from working and renders you incapacitated (as defined by the Social Security Administration).

Would you like to learn more about SSDI eligibility? Consider calling a disability advocate or attorney for Social Security today. This can be accomplished by completing a free evaluation form to initiate the process.