To be awarded Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, you must meet both the medical and non-medical requirements as outlined by the Social Security Administration (SSA). While you might be quite ill and meet the medical criteria to be considered disabled, you still might be denied disability benefits. A technical denial occurs when an applicant does not meet the non-medical requirements for disability benefits.
How Does Work History Impact Your SSDI Eligibility?
Have you ever wondered where your hard-earned money goes when you receive a paycheck? All individuals who work have FICA taxes deducted from their paychecks. FICA, or Federal Insurance Contribution Act, are U.S. federal payroll taxes that help fund Social Security disability programs.
When you pay FICA taxes, you are paying into the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. As the name implies, it’s a type of “insurance” program. In order for you to earn the ability to withdraw disability funds, you must have paid enough into the system to retain coverage
In addition to meeting the definition for disability, you must have worked enough, and recently enough, to qualify for SSDI benefits. The SSA measures the amount you have worked in “credits.” In 2024, you earn one credit for each $1,730 of earnings, with a maximum of four credits per year. The number of credits that you earn remains on your Social Security record regardless of your current work status.
The number of credits required to earn SSDI benefits depends on a person’s age at the time that they become disabled. For example, if you become disabled before the age of 24, you need 1 ½ years of work, or six credits, in the last three years before you became disabled. On the other hand, if you are 50-years-old, you will require a total of 28 credits to be considered for SSDI benefits.
If you have not earned the minimum number of work credits per the SSA standard, you will be deemed denied on a technical basis.
How Does Income Impact Your SSDI Eligibility?
While the SSDI program does not set a limit on the number of assets that you own or how much family contributes to your household income, it does put a limit on the amount of money that you can earn through work when you receive SSDI benefits. If you can make enough money, you will not be considered disabled by the SSA standards.
As part of its definition of disability, the SSA requires that a disabled individual be unable to perform what it calls substantial gainful activity (SGA). Substantial gainful activity is employment that earns over a specific dollar amount each month. For 2024, that amount is $1,550 per month for non-blind applicants and $2,590 for blind applicants. At the time of application, if an individual is earning more than the SGA limit, then he or she is found not disabled.
Few individuals receiving SSDI may notice enough advancement in their condition that they want to try to return to the workforce, but worry that because of their disabilities, they may not be able to keep a job. To allow SSDI recipients to attempt to return to work, the SSA pays for a trial work period.
An individual receiving SSDI will have unrestricted earnings and still enjoy maximum benefits during the trial work period (TWP) without risking termination of benefits. The TWP includes nine months out of a rolling 60-month period (which does not need to be consecutive) where SSDI recipients can try to work until their disability is considered to have concluded.
Applying for SSDI
For SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), you can go online to the SSA website, you have the option of having your disability benefit application started. SSDI is for those who have the necessary number of years, paid Social Security taxes into the system also known as work credits.
As many disability claimants, you can call the SSA office nearest to where you live and telling the office that you want to make an appointment to file for disability. An appointment will be arranged for you to be interviewed after you have told the Social Security office that you plan to file for SSDI. This interview may be conducted face to face or by phone at the SSA office.
Should I Work With a Disability Attorney to Determine My SSDI Eligibility?
An experienced Social Security disability attorney will quickly be able to determine whether or not you have a reasonable chance of winning your Social Security Disability claim. In fact, a Disability lawyer will only take on your case if he or she feels that you have substantial evidence to lean on. Unlike with medical denials, however, non-medical denials cannot be appealed. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you consult with a qualified Social Security attorney when submitting your claim.