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The 3 factors that determine someone’s eligibility for SSDI

On Behalf of | Dec 7, 2023 | Social Security Disability |

Both illnesses and injuries can leave people incapable of working to support themselves and their families. While some workers may carry private disability insurance, many people rely solely on government benefits if they become suddenly incapable of working. The Social Security Administration (SSA) can distribute certain benefits to individuals who can no longer work because of serious medical challenges.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can help people pay their mortgages and other basic expenses when they cannot work due to medical challenges. There are three specific standards that a situation needs to meet for someone to qualify for SSDI benefits.

They must be completely unable to work

The first and most important requirement for SSDI benefits is that someone has a truly debilitating medical condition. With rare exceptions for blue-collar workers with marginal education, workers generally need to be completely unable to work to qualify for benefits. If someone can answer phones in an office setting or operate a cash register at a retail establishment, they may not qualify for SSDI benefits even though their condition will cause a drastic reduction in their income. A specific diagnosis does not automatically qualify someone for benefits. Instead, they will need medical records showing how the condition affects their ability to work or live independently.

They must have a long-lasting condition

There are plenty of illnesses and injuries that will render someone temporarily incapable of working. Often, those short-term health challenges will not lead to SSDI benefits. Typically, someone needs to either have a terminal condition or a medical issue that will last for at least 12 months to qualify for SSDI benefits. Someone unable to work because of a traumatic injury or illness that doctors can treat in less than a year likely won’t qualify for benefits unless the condition is terminal.

They must have a substantial work history

The final requirement for SSDI benefits is having an adequate work history. The SSA typically requires that someone have at least 40 work credits to secure SSDI benefits. Workers can accrue up to four credits per year. Occasionally, younger workers with debilitating medical conditions can qualify with fewer credits if they have worked roughly half of the time since becoming an adult. The SSA applies a sliding scale for work credits when applicants are under the age of 31.

People can review their situation with an attorney to better determine whether they currently meet those three standards and if they could qualify for benefits. Getting proper assistance when applying or appealing may increase someone’s chances of obtaining SSDI benefits when they become unable to work.