Disabilities come in many forms and can be either physical or mental. If you are diagnosed with a qualifying disability, one that hinders your ability to work and earn an income, you may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This SSA financial assistance program provides SSDI in the form of monthly payments to people who have disabilities that prevent them from working or working full time.

Unlike the SSI application, the Social Security Disability benefits application does not have a resource (total earnings) restriction to qualify. However, you still must meet the work credit (certain amount of time spent working) requirement.

How SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits Work

You can earn up to four work credits per year, one per quarter, and you must earn at least the minimum requirement in a single year to receive credit. Once you accumulate 40 credits, which equals out to approximately 10 years of working, you can qualify for SSA benefits.

However, younger workers can still be eligible for SSDI benefits if they have enough work credits based on their age. That’s because the SSA has a chart that assigns each age a specific credit minimum to meet a certain number of work credits over a given time period. The work credit rules based on age are as follows:

Before 24 years of age: 6 credits earned over three years before the disability

From 24 to 31 years of age: half the time between 21 years of age and age when disabled

  • Age 24: 6 credits earned in the past three years
  • Age 25: 8 credits earned in the past four years
  • Age 26: 10 credits earned in the past five years
  • Age 27: 12 credits earned in the past six years
  • Age 28: 14 credits earned in the past seven years
  • Age 29: 16 credits earned in the past eight years
  • Age 30: 18 credits earned in the past nine years
  • Ages 31 and up: 20 credits earned in the past 10 years

The SSA also has a residency requirement for SSDI benefits, too. You much be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or other qualifying legal resident. Your primary residence must also be in the United States, in Washington D.C. or in the Northern Mariana Islands.

It’s important to note that just because you qualify for SSDI benefits doesn’t mean you also qualify for SSI benefits. That’s because you must meet the income and resource requirements, such as how much money you earn, the amount of money in your bank accounts and the value of your assets. These requirements depend on if you’re single or married:

  • If you’re single, you must be worth less than $2,000.
  • If you’re married, you must be worth less than $3,000.

How much you get for SSI benefits will also depend on where you live (so, the cost of living for that area), whether you have other sources of income and how much your household’s income is. For instance, you may receive less if you get pension payments or have a spouse with an income. Another example is that some states actually add money onto federal SSI payments, so you may earn more by living in a certain state.