Social Security Disability Eligibility
Eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits is based on several factors. Individuals who may be eligible include a family’s primary wage earner, a worker’s dependent widow, widower, or a child under age 18 with disabilities.
When you are seeking Social Security Disability benefits, your disease or condition, first of all, must meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of disability. As a guide in determining qualifying disabilities, Social Security claims representatives and administrative law judges refer to the SSA manual, Listing Impairments, which contains all diseases and resulting impairments’ criteria that meet SSA requirements for disability benefit.
If your health problem meets SSA requirements, it must also be one that has lasted or is expected to last 12 months, or until death, and is severe enough to prevent you from performing your former job or any other type of gainful employment.
Additionally, you must be insured under the Social Security Administration (SSA) FICA insurance program. When you pay FICA taxes, you are, in essence paying your FICA disability insurance premium. As you pay into the system you accumulate credits (one credit for each quarter of the year). Generally, you are covered for disability benefits, after you have paid FICA taxes for ten years, and have earned 40 credits (4 credits per year.) However, age is another eligibility factor that comes into play; the number of work credits needed to qualify for SSDI depends on the age at disability onset. Disabled individuals who have not worked long enough to accumulate 40 credits may qualify, based on a lesser amount of credits.
Once you have stopped working, you have a 5-year grace period, in which you are still eligible for monthly disability payments. If the onset of your disability occurs more than five years after your last insured day, you will not qualify for disability benefits.
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