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How does the SSA decide you are eligible for SSDI?

On Behalf of | Jul 31, 2019 | Uncategorized

When you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits – usually called SSDI – the Social Security Administration (SSA) decides whether you are eligible or not. Their process considers various factors about your work history and the level of your disability.

This process takes multiple steps in determining eligibility. Sometimes these steps can be difficult for people applying for benefits.

Work credits

To be eligible for any benefits through the SSA, you must have worked long enough to qualify. The SSA uses work credits to determine how long you have worked. In 2019, you receive a work credit for every $1,360 you have earned in net income. You can receive a maximum of four credits every year.

Typically, you will need 40 credits to qualify for SSDI. However, if you are under 62 years old, you can qualify with fewer credits.

Identifying disability

The SSA has a strict definition of disability with SSDI benefits. It only gives SSDI benefits to people who can’t do any work for at least a year or more. If someone can partially perform a job or is still able to do a different job, the SSA will not approve giving SSDI benefits.

The SSA has five factors to determine if someone qualifies as disabled:

  1. If you are working – Anyone earning more than $1,220 a month in 2019 cannot qualify for SSDI.
  2. If you have a severe condition – For the SSA to qualify you, your condition must limit you so much that you are physically or mentally unable to work for no less than a year.
  3. If your condition is on their list – The SSA has a list of medical conditions that meet their disability requirements. If your condition is on the list, they will consider you disabled. If not, they will decide if your condition matches the severity of the ones on the list.
  4. If you are still able to do your most recent work – In this step, the SSA decides whether you can do the work you had been doing. Your condition must impair your ability to do the job you had before.
  5. If you can do any other type of work – The SSA wants to make sure that you can’t perform any other type of work with your condition. If you can, they will deny your request. If you can’t, they will decide your disability qualifies.

Others who qualify

The SSA also recognizes other situations that qualify for SSDI. These situations have different standards for qualification. For example, people with blindness or low vision can qualify for SSDI. Their limit for monthly income is also higher.

Disabled widows or widowers may qualify if their loved ones pass away. Disabled adult children can also receive benefits through their parents’ Social Security earnings.

A complex process

Applying for SSDI benefits can be confusing. You must provide the SSA with firm proof that your condition qualifies as a disability. You should always seek help when applying. Many applicants get denied at first. A lawyer can help you send over everything the SSA needs. They can also work with you to appeal a denial.

If you become disabled, you can receive SSDI benefits to cover your lost income. Knowing the process to qualify is your first step to receiving approval.


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