If you are unable to work because of a disability, you may be wondering if you are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The answer is: it depends.
Do you have a serious disability?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines a disability as an “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” The physical or mental impairment needs to be one that prevents you from working.
Have you been working?
To qualify for SSDI, you must have worked and paid Social Security taxes for a certain period of time. The amount of time varies depending on your age. If you are younger than 24, you may qualify if you have a total of six quarters of work (18 months) in the three-year period before your disability began. If you are 24 to 31, you may qualify if you have worked half the time from when you turned 21 until your disability began. For example, if your disability began when you were 28, you would need four years of work (48 months).
Are you currently working?
If you are able to work and earn more than $1350 per month, you may not qualify for SSDI. However, if you are working and your earnings fall below the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level, you may still qualify for benefits. Substantial Gainful Activity refers to the level of work you are able to do despite your disability. For instance, if you are able to work but your disability prevents you from working full-time or limits the type of work you can do, you may still qualify for benefits.
There are other factors that may affect your eligibility for SSDI, such as whether you have dependents, your marital status, whether you are self-employed, whether you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness or if you are blind. If you think you may be eligible for SSDI benefits, it’s important to consider your situation carefully before you apply.