You must first have worked in jobs covered by Social Security in order to be eligible to apply for Social Security disability benefits.
In addition to the work requirement, you must also have a medical condition that meets the SSA definition of disability. Basically, the SSA will pay monthly benefits to individuals that are unable to work for over a year because of an accepted disability.
How Much Do I Need To Work To Qualify For Disability?
The number of work credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. You need 40 work credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled.
The Social Security Administration bases work credits on your total yearly wages or self-employment income. You can earn up to four work credits each year.
For more information on whether you qualify, read our publication; How You Earn Credits.
How Does The SSA Define Disability?
The Social Security Administration only pays for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability.
Under Social Security rules you are considered disabled if:
You cannot do work that you did before;
The SSA decides that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s); and
Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
How Does The SSA Decide If I'm Disabled?
If you meet the work credit requirements the SSA uses a step-by-step process to answer five questions.
Are you working?
Is your condition "severe"?
Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?
Can you do the work you did previously?
Can you perform any other type of work?
For more information please contact a local Montana disability office or visit www.ssa.gov.