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How do I know if I qualify for Social Security benefits?

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2023 | Social Security Disability |

Having a disability that prevents you from working means that you could be eligible for Social Security benefits. The Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) program provides compensation to disabled Ohio residents.

When you cannot work, these benefits can provide the income you need to take care of yourself and your family and pay your bills.

However, you must meet certain requirements to qualify for SSDI benefits. While there are only two main requirements, learning if you meet each requirement can be complex.

Having enough work credits

The first requirement is that you must have worked for employers who were covered by Social Security and you must have worked for a certain amount of time.

If your prior employers were covered under Social Security, you earned work credits when you were working for them. You can earn up to four credits each year.

The exact number of work credits you need to qualify for benefits changes every year. The number of necessary work credits for 2023 is one credit for every $1,640 in wages you earned. This means you will meet your four work credits when you earn $6,560.

The number of work credits you have is likely going to be higher if you are older because you have probably worked longer and earned more credits. There might be a lower requirement if you are younger, but it depends on your situation.

You typically need 40 work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits and you must have earned 20 of those credits within the past 10 years before your disability began.

Having a qualifying disability

Once you have determined if you have enough work credits, the second requirement is having a qualifying disability.

The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) has a strict definition of what constitutes a disability.

You must be fully disabled. This means that you cannot do any work at all because of your disability, including the same type of work you did in the past.

The SSA defines work as a “substantial gainful activity.” You must show that you cannot perform any substantial gainful activity because of your disability or medical condition.

Therefore, if you can perform some work, such as light duty work, or working from a computer at home, you might not qualify for SSDI.

Your disability or medical condition must also be expected to last for at least one year. If your condition is expected to improve within a year, you might not meet the SSA definition of disabled and, therefore, be ineligible for benefits.

Proving your disability

Proving you meet the definition of disabled can be tricky. It helps to have medical documentation from a doctor describing your disability and stating why you cannot perform any work and how long your disability is expected to last.

You might consider talking with an attorney before applying for SSDI benefits. An attorney can analyze your situation, advise you on your chances of qualifying and potentially help you with filing your petition.