What are the 3 main requirements to qualify for SSDI benefits?

On Behalf of | Nov 9, 2023 | Social Security Disability

People who develop disabling medical conditions often worry about how they will support themselves and their family members. They have utility payments to make and groceries to buy even though they cannot work because of their health. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are one of the last lines of defense between individuals and severe personal financial hardship.

People who qualify for SSDI benefits can receive monthly payments that will help them cover their basic expenses until their condition improves or they reach retirement age. Unfortunately, SSDI benefits are notoriously hard for people to obtain. Those who review their situation carefully can develop a more realistic idea of their likelihood to succeed when applying. The following are the three main requirements for receiving SSDI benefits.

A truly debilitating medical condition

The first and arguably most important factor when seeking SSDI benefits is the need to have a medical condition so disabling that a person cannot work at all. If someone is capable of working a low-impact job, like working as a cashier or greeter at a local retail shop, they probably won’t qualify for SSDI benefits. They need medical documentation showing that their condition completely prevents them from supporting themselves.

A condition that will last a year or more

There are plenty of conditions severe enough to affect someone’s ability to work that still don’t meet the requirements for SSDI benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) typically requires that people remain unable to work for at least 12 months for their condition to qualify. Broken bones, for example, might leave someone in need of bed rest, but they would be able to return to work within a few months. The same is sometimes true of more serious conditions, like cancer. The duration of a condition is an important consideration when applying for SSDI benefits.

Adequate credits with the SSA

Individual applicants generally need to have a lengthy work history to qualify for benefits. The SSA allows people to accrue up to four credits per year. Applicants generally need to have at least 40 credits. A recent work history is also important. They should have earned at least 20 of those credits within the last decade. There are more lenient rules available for workers under the age of 31 who find themselves unable to continue working.

Learning more about SSDI benefit qualifications may help people understand if applying is worth the effort in their case. Seeking legal guidance can provide individuals with this clarity.