To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you must have worked and paid into the program (mandatory payroll taxes) for five of the last 10 years.
You must also have been disabled before reaching full-retirement age (65-67), and you must meet Social Security's definition of disability. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a process called sequential evaluation to determine who receives benefits.
Here is an explanation of Social Security's five-step process to determine if an individual qualifies for SSDI benefits:
1. Determine if an individual is "working (engaging in substantial gainful activity)" according to the SSA definition. Earning more than $1,040 a month as an employee is enough to be disqualified from receiving Social Security disability benefits.
2. Conclude the disability must be severe enough to significantly limit one's ability to perform basic work activities needed to do most jobs. For example:
- Walking, standing, sitting, lifting, pushing, pulling, reaching, carrying or handling
- Seeing, hearing and speaking
- Understanding/carrying out and remembering simple instructions
- Responding appropriately to supervision, co-workers and usual work situations
- Dealing with changes in a routine work setting
3. Ask if the disability meets or equals a medical listing.
4. Explore the ability of an individual to perform work he has done in the past despite his disability. If the SSA finds that a person can do his past work, benefits are denied. If the person cannot, then the process proceeds to the fifth and final step.
5. Review age, education, work experience and physical/mental condition to determine what other work, if any, the person can perform. To determine disability, the SSA enlists medical-vocational rules, which vary according to age.
For more information regarding specific Social Security disability guidelines, see the list below.
Don't see your condition listed here? Contact us for additional information.
There are 200 conditions that may qualify you for a quicker SSDI decision through the Social Security Administration’s Compassionate Allowances program.
Request a no-cost, no obligation disability evaluation to determine your eligibility for Social Security disability.