SSDI Eligibility Requirements

Work and Disability Requirements for Social Security Disability Benefits

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program offers financial help to Americans who have become disabled and are no longer able to work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is strict in implementing eligibility requirements for all applicants, based upon specific work and disability qualifications. The applicant must have worked long enough and recently enough and must have a disabling condition that has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months to qualify. We will go into further detail on the two primary SSDI eligibility requirements: work and disability.

"Recent Work" and "Duration of Work" Requirements

The work, or earnings, requirements for Social Security disability benefits are determined based on the applicant's age when disabled, recent work and duration of work. The applicant must have worked recently enough, prior to his or her disability, to qualify. The following "recent work" requirements apply:

  • If an applicant was disabled before the age of 24, he or she must have had one-and-a-half years of work within the three-year period prior to his or her disability.
  • If an applicant was disabled from age 24 through 30, he or she must have had worked for half the time between turning 21 and the age of his or her disability. For example, if the applicant was disabled at 25, he or she would need to have two years of work to qualify.
  • If an applicant is aged 31 years or older, he or she must have had five years of work out of the 10-year period prior to his or her disability.

In addition to meeting recent work requirements, the applicant must meet "duration of work" requirements, which range from 1.5 years for applicants younger than 28 to 9.5 years for applicants aged 60 years or older.

Disability Requirements

If an applicant meets work requirements, the SSA will send the application on to the local Disability Determination Services office, where five issues will be reviewed to determine whether the applicant qualifies as disabled:

  • The applicant must not be working and earning a certain amount of money to qualify.
  • The applicant must be suffering from a "severe" medical condition that has a significant impact on his or her ability to work and perform normal tasks.
  • The applicant must have a condition that is listed in the List of Impairments or must otherwise have a qualifying disability that is as severe as a condition included in the List.
  • If the applicant does not meet the requirements in step 3, he or she must be unable to perform the work previously performed.
  • In addition to being unable to perform the work he or she once performed, the applicant must be unable to participate in any other type of gainful employment.

Click here for more information on disability requirements.

What happens if my claim is denied?

If the SSA decides that you do not meet eligibility requirements and denies your claim, which happens in approximately two out of three cases, you have the ability to appeal this decision. An appeal must be filed within 60 days of receiving a written notice from the SSA that a claim has been denied. There are four levels of appeals: reconsideration, hearing, Appeals Council review and Federal Court review. The letter sent from the SSA regarding a denied application will include information on how to file an appeal.

In addition to ensuring your claim is filed properly, including all pertinent information and evidence needed by the SSA to make an accurate determination of your eligibility, an attorney can provide essential guidance and representation in the event that a claim is denied and appeal is required. Find out how Napoli Shkolnik PLLC can help you with your claim by contacting our office today.