Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits

To be eligible for benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, you must first meet two different earnings tests: a “recent work” test and a “duration of work” test to show that you worked recently enough and long enough under the Social Security system. (Certain blind workers are exempt from the “recent work” test.)

The number of work credits needed to qualify for SSDI benefits depends on your age at the time you became disabled. In general, a worker between the ages of 31 and 62 needs between 20 and 40 credits, 20 of which must be earned in the 10 years preceding the year of disability onset. Younger workers can qualify with fewer than 20 work credits.

Work credits are based on total yearly wages and/or self-employment income. The amount of wages/income required for each credit changes from year to year. An individual can earn up to four work credits per year.

If your work history satisfies the earnings requirement, you must also have a medical condition that meets the Social Security Administration’s strict definition of disability. The Social Security Administration utilizes a five-step analysis to determine if you are disabled.

The time for processing an application for SSDI benefits can be long. Therefore, it is important that you apply for benefits as soon as you become disabled.

If you are also eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you should apply for them. You can get SSDI and SSI benefits if you are eligible for both.