Social Security disability benefits are provided to Americans under two of the largest federal benefits programs, Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income. These are two different programs available to different groups of people. Although both programs are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), they must be applied for according to their unique guidelines and procedures.

According to the SSA, only people who are disabled as defined under the Social Security Act may qualify for either program. The Social Security Administration considers a person to be disabled if they are unable to engage and interact in profitable activity from the cause of a medically found mental or physical impairment, that has remained ongoing for a period of at least 12 months or that is likely to end in a fatality. This definition serves to underscore the importance of medical data and documentation that clarifies and substantiates your disability condition(s) as evidenced by reports, lab tests and results, clinic and hospital visits, medications and their dosages, and evidence of any treatments undertaken by a doctor or other healthcare professional. Other essential information to include in your application is a summary of your work history and the type of work you performed while on the job.

Requirements for SSDI

Besides being disabled per the SSA’s definition, Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are available based on a work history during which you paid Social Security taxes for a period long enough and recently enough to allow you to qualify. For example, quarterly earnings of $1,320 in 2018 earned one work credit. The amount of earnings required for a quarter of coverage (QC) in 2019 is $1,360. “Quarter of coverage” is a legal term, but you may also see the term “Social Security credit” (or just “credit”) used elsewhere. A QC is the basic unit for determining whether a worker is insured under the Social Security program. No matter how high your earnings may be, you cannot earn more than 4 QC’s in one year. Furthermore, your age when you became disabled is another relevant factor that will determine how many work credits you need to qualify. In general, 40 credits are needed, 20 of which you accrued within the last 10 years of employment ending with the year your physical or mental disability occurred or began.

To be eligible for disability benefits, a person must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). A person who is earning more than a certain monthly amount (net of impairment-related work expenses) is ordinarily considered to be engaging in SGA. The amount of monthly earnings considered as SGA depends on the nature of a person’s disability. The Social Security Act specifies a higher SGA amount for statutorily blind individuals; Federal regulations specify a lower SGA amount for non-blind individuals. The monthly SGA amount for statutorily blind individuals for 2019 is $2040. For non-blind individuals, the monthly SGA amount for 2019 is $1220. SGA for the blind does not apply to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, while SGA for the non-blind disabled applies to Social Security and SSI benefits.

Eligibility for SSI

Supplementary Security Income is a disability program available to those aged 65 or above, as well as the blind and the disabled. These are generally individuals who have never been employed or who do not have a work history long enough to qualify for SSDI. This program requires that the disabled person has very little in the way of financial resources or other income.

As a Social Security disability attorney, I have one mission: to provide you with highly experienced and skilled legal assistance aimed at helping you obtain disability benefits. My firm is dedicated to offering complete and effective legal care. By contacting me for representation in your disability claim, you can rest assured that your case will be personally handled by me throughout the entire process.