You may believe that having a disabling medical condition entitles you to receive benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance program. This is only partially true; additional factors determine your eligibility.
SSDI benefits occur only after the Social Security Administration completes a comprehensive qualification process. The nature of your disability and the length of your previous employment reflect two of the conditions considered for eligibility.
How does the nature of my medical condition affect my eligibility?
The severity of your condition has much to do with your benefits approval. You need to show that your condition makes it impossible for you to return to the work you previously performed. Your condition must also prevent you from performing any other work.
The qualification process will consider your skills, age and education to see if there is a form of work that you can do, even if unrelated to your past experience. As noted by the SSA Disability Benefits handbook, your eligibility depends on your medical condition rendering you unable to perform any type of work or “gainful activity” for at least one year.
How long must I have worked to receive SSDI benefits?
As described on the SSA website, you need the required number of work credits to qualify for SSDI. You earn work credits when an employer deducts Social Security taxes from your paycheck.
Each year of employment brings a maximum of four work credits. Claimants generally need 40 credits to be eligible for SSDI, but younger workers may qualify with less.
Although you believe you have met all of the requirements, the SSA may deny your application. You have the right, however, to file an appeal and supply further supportive evidence. If your appeal is unsuccessful, you may also request that a federal court hear your case.