Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is a federally funded and administered program by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA). The program pays benefits to people who meet the requirements for disability. Since Social Security benefits are lifetime benefits, you may end up receiving more money than you contributed. For this reason, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is very strict about who can receive benefits so that only those who deserve them can get them. So, what are the eligibility criteria?


You must not be able to work because of a medical issue. Social Security has a precise definition of disability. The condition must seriously limit your ability to perform basic work-related activities like lifting, walking, sitting, standing, or remembering. Note that even if you cannot do the work that you did previously, you must also not be able to do any other work with your medical impairments. Those with partial or short-term disability are not eligible.


Widows and widowers who have a disability must be aged between 50 and 60 to qualify. The medical condition must meet SSA’s definition of disability for adults, and the disability must have started before or within 7 years of the worker’s death. 


You are required to have worked in a job that is covered by Social Security and must have contributed for a combined 5 years in the last 10 years. Social Security work credits are calculated from your total self-employment income or yearly wages. The required amount for getting a work credit is not fixed; it changes from time to time. For example, in 2022, each $1,510 in self-employment income or wages gets you 1 credit. The required number of credits in order to be eligible for disability benefits is dependent on your age when the disability starts. Overall, you require 40 credits, of which 20 must have been earned within the previous 10 years. You may be eligible with fewer credits if you are younger. 


You should not have attained the age of retirement. If you are receiving SSDI benefits and you reach full retirement age, the disability benefits are automatically converted to retirement benefits. The eligible amount does not change.

Personal Details and Documents 

You must provide personal details for identification purposes as well as to confirm how much you are making from your employment or business, the jobs you have worked in over the previous 15 years, and the extent of your injuries. You are also required to provide documents such as medical records, test results and doctors’ reports, self-employment tax returns, W-2 forms and settlement agreements, pay stubs, award letters, or other proof of permanent or temporary workers’ compensation-type benefits received, among others. 

Getting SSDI benefits is not easy due to the strict eligibility criteria, as the Federal Government tries to limit benefits to only those who absolutely need them. For this reason, you should hire a social security law firm to assist you with the application and appeal. At the Social Security Law Center, we have been assisting Bartlesville clients to get the benefits they deserve since 1990. Call us today to schedule a consultation.