When you’re unable to work due to a medical condition but still need a steady source of income, it may feel hopeless. However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers disability benefits for those with qualifying medical conditions through the SSDI and SSI programs. So, what benefits are available and how do you know if you qualify for disability benefits? 

How Do You Qualify for SSDI?

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits program is available for those who have worked most of their life and paid into the social security system. Under the SSA, you must meet a variety of requirements:

  • The most basic requirement is that you are unable to do the work you used to perform.
  • The SSA also must determine that you are unable to adjust to doing another job
  • You must also have a medical condition that is severe and expected to persist for at least one year or result in death. 

SSA will also determine if you qualify for disability benefits by determining if you are truly disabled. There are five questions they ask, including:

  • Are you currently working? If you earn more than $1,350 on average each month, you may not be considered disabled. 
  • Is your condition severe enough that you are limited in your ability to work for at least 12 months?
  • Is your condition one that is included on the SSA list of disabling conditions?
  • Are you unable to do the same type of work you used to do?
  • If not, is there another type of work you can do? 

Work Credits for SSDI

When the SSA determines whether or not you qualify for disability benefits, they will check your work history to see if you have earned enough work credits. The number of credits you acquired throughout your time in the workforce will vary depending on how much money you earned. In 2022, for each quarter a person earns $1,510 or more, they are given one Social Security or Medicare credit. There is a maximum of four credits given per year for each quarter the earnings requirements are met. While these work credits do play a role in your eligibility, the average of your earnings during your working years will determine how much your monthly benefit payment will be. 

The number of credits needed are as follows:

  • For those younger than age 24, 6 credits earned within a 3 year period are required. 
  • For those age 24-31, you could qualify if you have credits for working at least half of the time between age 21 and the onset of your disability. 
  • For those age 31 and older, at least 20 credits are required and must be earned within a 10-year period prior to the start of your disability.

How Do You Qualify for SSI?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a disability benefit available for those with a limited work history. SSI is a “needs-based program” that is designed to assist those with:

  • a disability that prevents them from having gainful employment
  • a great financial need
  • those who are blind
  • or those over the age of 65

SSI payments are a set amount that may change each year depending on the Cost-of-Living-Adjustments (COLA). 

Medical conditions that qualify for SSI may include:

  • Blindness
  • Cancer
  • Back injury
  • Kidney disease
  • Genitourinary issues
  • Cardiovascular conditions
  • Digestive tract problems
  • Vision loss
  • Hearing loss
  • Skin disorders
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Immune disorders
  • Neurological disorders
  • Mental disorders
  • Various syndromes
  • Hematological disorders

For more specific information about what conditions qualify for adults and children, you can visit the SSA website. 

Contact the Law Office of Karen Kraus Bill For Assistance

If you think you may qualify for disability benefits, don’t hesitate to reach out to our offices to schedule a free consultation. Applying for disability benefits on your own can be time consuming, intimidating, and may result in a denial of benefits. Your chances of a successful request for benefits, or even an appeal if you’ve been denied before, are greatly increased when you have the help of an experienced disability attorney. Reach out today with any questions you have about qualifying or appealing. Call 573-875-5200 or visit the website.