Social Security Disability
Ask a Social Security Lawyer to review your claim today
Do you qualify for Social Security Benefits?
How You Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits
To qualify for benefits, you must first have worked in jobs covered by Social Security. Then you must have a medical condition that meets Social Security's definition of disability. In general, we pay monthly cash benefits to people who are unable to work for a year or more because of a disability.
Benefits usually continue until you are able to work again on a regular basis. There are also a number of special rules, called "work incentives," that provide continued benefits and health care coverage to help you make the transition back to work.
If you are receiving Social Security disability benefits when you reach age 65, your disability benefits automatically convert to retirement benefits, but the amount remains the same.
Let's look at the requirements more closely:
How Much Work Do You Need to qualify for Social Security Benefits?
In addition to meeting our definition of disability, you must have worked long enough--and recently enough--under Social Security to qualify for disability benefits.
Social Security work credits are based on your total yearly wages or self-employment income. You can earn up to four credits each year. The amount needed for a credit changes from year to year. In 2002, for example, you earn one credit for each $870 of wages or self-employment income. When you've earned $3,480, you've earned your four credits for the year. For 2003, the amount for one credit increases to $890 and to $3,560 for the maximum four credits.
The number of work credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.
IMPORTANT: Remember that whatever your age is, you must have earned the required number of work credits within a certain period ending with the time you become disabled. Your Social Security Statement shows whether you meet the work requirement at the time it was prepared. If you stop working under Social Security after the date of the Statement, you may not continue to meet the disability work requirement in the future.
What the Social Security Administration Means By "Disability"
The definition of disability under Social Security is different than other programs. Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability.
Disability under Social Security is based on your inability to work. We consider you disabled under Social Security rules if you cannot do work that youdid before and we decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s). Your disability must also last or be expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
This is a strict definition of disability. Social Security program rules assume that working families have access to other resources to provide support during periods of short-term disabilities, including workers' compensation, insurance, savings and investments.
Go to our Disability Determination page to see how the SSA determines if you are disabled.
If you or someone you know have been improperly denied Social Security Disability Benefits, contact us immediately by using our free online consultation form. A Social Security lawyer will review the facts of your claim. There is no charge or obligation for this service. Once we have received your information, a member of our staff will contact you concerning your claim.