Here’s How SSDI Works to Help You Manage Expenses Related to Your Disability

The Social Security Administration (SSA) funds Social Security disability benefits that go to residents who have a disability that prevents them from being able to work and earn a livable income. Disabilities can occur from accidents, injuries or medical conditions that could put a large financial burden on you and your family. That’s why Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) exists: to ease financial burdens due to disabilities and help people pay their bills and purchase necessities.

The SSA has very strict qualification requirements for the SSDI program. It’s important to know these requirements before applying for SSDI benefits so you don’t waste your or your family’s time that could be used to apply for other financial assistance you’re more likely to qualify for. Continue reading these slides to learn more about these requirements, what you need to do to apply for SSDI and how much money you could get to help you stay financially afloat.

Qualifying for SSDI Benefits: The Requirements
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The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, one of the largest government-funded programs that provides much-needed financial assistance to those with disabilities. This government agency determines the eligibility requirements, processes applications and distributes funds accordingly.

The first qualification you must meet is the SSA’s definition of a qualifying disability. You may qualify for SSDI benefits if you meet all of the following program criteria:

  • You can’t perform the same work you once did.
  • You cannot adapt to another industry or career type due to your condition.
  • Your condition has lasted or is expected to last at least one year or result in death.

If you are temporarily disabled or injured, you would not qualify for the SSDI benefits program. In addition, those who have a partial disability and are still able to work also do not qualify for SSDI benefits. However, you may qualify for short-term disability assistance from workers’ compensation and other government programs.

In addition to meeting the disability requirements, you must also have earned enough work credits during your work history. A work credit counts for each $1,730 (as of 2024) you earn, and you can earn up to four credits per year. To qualify for SSDI, you must have at least 40 work credits over the course of your work history, which comes out to be approximately 10 years of work. And 20 of those credits must have been earned in the 10 years immediately before becoming disabled. However, you don’t have to earn work credits consecutively; you could earn credits from various periods of time in which you worked.

It’s important to note that some applicants may still qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance without having 40 credits. That’s because SSDI can be awarded to younger workers who become disabled and are unable to work and don’t have 40 work credits due to age. Here are the work credit breakdowns for people who have fewer than 40 work credits based on age:

Under 24 years old: These applicants must have earned 6 work credits in the 3-year period before becoming disabled.

Ages 24 to 31: These applicants must have credit for working half of the time between ages 21 and the age at which you became disabled. For example, someone who’s disabled at the age of 27 needs to work half of 6 years, or 3 years, in which they’d earn 12 credits over that time.

Age 31 and older: These applicants typically need at least 20 credits in the 10 years before becoming disabled.

You can find a full breakdown of how many credits a person needs based on their age on the Social Security Administration’s website.

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Updated on 02/27/2023