Understanding Social Security Disability Requirements

Understanding the Social Security disability requirements is a necessary step toward receiving disability benefits, and we can help you gain that knowledge.

Understanding SSD Requirements

First, you need to have worked in jobs that paid into Social Security. If your employer paid into Social Security, then you were “covered” by Social Security during that time.

By working such jobs, you were collecting Social Security work credits. You can earn up to four work credits every year. In 2018, every $1,320 you earn as wages (or as self-employment income) grants you one work credit; once you have earned $5,280, you have four credits for the year.

The amount of work required to earn a work credit changes each year, so is it worth your time to check back and see how much work would be required for work credits.

Depending on the age you are when you become disabled, you need a certain number of work credits to qualify for disability benefits. In most cases, you need 40 work credits, and you need 20 of those work credits to have been earned in the past decade – ending with the year you became disabled.

Younger workers, since they may not have been in the work force as long, may qualify with a lower number of earned work credits.

Additionally, you must meet the Social Security Administration (SSA) definition of disability. This means:

  • You cannot do work that you did before;
  • The SSA decides that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s), and
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

Partial disability and short-term disability do not qualify for Social Security disability benefits.