How to Qualify for Social Security Disability

If you feel you can no longer work, you need to know the Social Security disability Requirements. Find out if your injury or illness qualifies for a monthly benefit from Social Security based on your career earnings. Let’s take a look.

Everything You Need To Know About Social Security Disability Requirements

When you are in pain all the time it is difficult to work but you don’t know how to qualify for disability payments from the government. You might qualify for SSDI and also meet SSI disability qualifications. SSI is based on your financial situation and most people receiving SSDI are not receiving SSI. Social Security Disability Insurance is something that you have paid for all the years you have paid for Social Security. You are entitled to these benefits if you qualify. Let’s look at the disability qualifications you need to meet.

What is SSDI?

After Congress established the Social Security Administration and the general trust fund with it, the Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI. This benefit was designed to help out workers who for medical or disability reasons could no longer work. It was intended to supplement one’s income, not replace it.

In establishing this fund in 1956, Congress set forth strict guidelines for how the fund would operate and who could qualify for these benefits. These guidelines included:

  • You must have a “substantial work history” to have SSDI eligibility.
  • SSDI would have strict guidelines defining what is a disability.
  • Payroll taxes would fund SSDI just as they did SSI.
  • Benefits would be basic not extravagant – not meant to replace full compensation.
  • Required supports for returning to work programs.
  • You can qualify for disability by meeting both the medical and work-related requirements set forth in the law.

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Social Security Disability Requirements

There are both medical and work-related requirements for Social Security Disability payments. They are:

Work-Related Social Security Disability Requirements

  • It must be expected that you will not be able to work for at least one year or that you will die within that year.
  • You need to have enough “work credits” for SSDI qualification and be a citizen of the United States.

What are these “work credits” and how do you get them? As you work you earn a certain number of work credits based on the total amount of wages you earn in a year. Up to 4 work credits can be earned each year and you can still earn some credits even if you do not work an entire year. The value of the work credit is tied to inflation and in 2018 one work credit is worth $1320 and four are worth $5200. SO, you only have to make $5200 in 2018 to get 4 work credits. In order to meet SSDI eligibility, one would need 40 work credits with half (20) having been earned in the last ten years.

This is probably the hardest part to figure out when we ask, “Do I qualify for disability?”. An example is if you worked part-time and earned $6000 per year you would earn 4 work credits each year. In order to be eligible, you would have to work 10 years to acquire 40 work credits. You would also have had to earn those credits in the last ten years.

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Medical Related Social Security Disability Requirements

Obviously, these are the requirements everyone focuses on first. Of course, you would not even be asking what qualifies as a disability or how does disability work, if you were not injured or ill. Your doctor says you cannot work for at least the next year, but does your “condition” qualify? Here are some “automatic” qualifications.

  • You are blind.
  • You are a child of the blind or disabled.
  • You are the widow or widower of the blind or disabled.
  • You are an adult who has been disabled since childhood.
  • You are disabled but under 65 years of age.
  • You are disabled, cannot work for at least a year and your condition is on the SSA List of Impairments. This means you cannot do any type of substantial work at all – either your job or any job.
  • You can be mentally or physically disabled.

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What are the conditions in the List of Impairments otherwise known as the Blue Book? What are the disability qualifications in this list? Let’s take a look.

You should know that even if your condition is not on this list, you might still have social security disability eligibility. Remember that you must be totally disabled and not be able to do any work. Partial disabilities are not covered.

When you look through the List of Impairments, you must also know that the severity of the impairment is taken into consideration as well. You may have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but it is not severe enough to keep you from substantial work. It would not meet the Social Security Disability Requirements. The list is divided into categories and then the specific ailment must be listed, and the severity must be met.

The categories are:

  • Musculoskeletal Problems (e.g., back injuries, amputation, femur fractures)
  • Special Senses and Speech (e.g., hearing loss, loss of speech, loss of visual efficiency)
  • Respiratory System (e.g., chronic pulmonary hypertension, asthma, cystic fibrosis)
  • Cardiovascular System (e.g., chronic pulmonary hypertension, heart failure, chronic venous insufficiency)
  • Digestive System (e.g., short bowel syndrome, liver disease, irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Genitourinary Impairments (e.g., chronic kidney disease, nephrotic syndrome)
  • Hematological Disorders (e.g., bone marrow failure, sickle cell disease, hemophilia)
  • Skin Disorders (e.g., dermatitis, ichthyosis, burns)
  • Endocrine Disorders (e.g., diabetes, hyperglycemia, adrenal gland disorders)
  • Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems (e.g., Down syndrome)
  • Neurological (e.g., Parkinsonian syndrome, epilepsy, cerebral palsy)
  • Mental Disorders (e.g., schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, intellectual disorders)
  • Malignant Neoplastic Diseases (e.g., lymphoma, multiple myeloma)
  • Immune System Disorders (e.g., lupus, HIV/AIDs, inflammatory arthritis

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Proving You Meet the Medical Social Security Disability Requirements

In order to qualify you will need medical information presented to the Social Security Administration as well as informing your physicians and facilities that the SSA will be contacting them. To prove your SSDI eligibility, the SSA will want all medical records that pertain to your condition, including physicians’ sessions notes, visits to specialists, hospitals, labs, clinics, and all other providers including mental health providers if applicable. You should make available to the Social Security Administration the following information as well:

  • Basic information on all the doctors who have treated the condition you are applying for. This would include their name, location, phone.
  • If you know them the dates you were seen in doctors’ offices, clinics or hospitals.
  • Medical tests – what did you have, when did you have them, where did you have them and who ordered them.
  • Medications: name, dose, reason, prescribing physician.

After the claims examiner goes through everything that has been submitted by you, your doctors and other providers, they will determine if you need to see an SSA doctor for a final recommendation. After this, they will decide if you meet the SSDI eligibility requirements.

If your disability is not on the List of Impairments you can still apply and be approved if your condition means you cannot hold any type of job for the next year. You would prove this in the same way that you would prove a disability that was on the List of Impairments. You must prove through your doctors and medical records that your condition, though not on the list, is too severe for you to work. You will be evaluated in much the same manner as the person whose condition is on the list. This is how you qualify for Social Security Disability.

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