Social Security Disability Insurance

What is Social Security
Disability Insurance

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program which provides its recipients with benefits on a monthly basis if they become mentally or physically disabled before they are unable to work as a result of their disability. It applies to those who are experiencing their disability before their retirement age.

Eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

In order for individuals to qualify for the Social Security Disability Insurance program, their work history needs to demonstrate that they previously worked at a job for a certain number of years and they paid Social Security taxes (FICA). However, the main criteria for eligibility is based on the amount of work credits that an individual has acquired. Alternately, if individuals have not worked the amount of time needed to acquire a specific number of work credits, they can elect to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Work Credits

The amount of credits you will need to quality for the Social Security Disability Insurance program is primarily dependent on the age in which you became disabled. For example, if you experience a disability while you are over the age of 50, guidelines specify that you will need a minimum of 28 work credits, or to have a solid work history of at least 7 years, 5 of which must have occurred during the last 10 years.


On top of having the necessary work credits, the medical condition that you experience must meet the criteria of what the SSA defines as being a disability. It is worth noting that the benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program are only applicable to individuals who have a severe, total or long-term disability.

Long-term disabilities are defined as debilitation conditions that typically last more than a year. Total disabilities are defined as being conditions that cripples an individual’s ability to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA) for a period of at least one year or more.

Severe disabilities are defined as being various conditions that can hamper an individual’s ability to perform work-related tasks. Under the SGA guidelines of 2016 of the Social Security Disability Insurance program, if an individual earns more than $1,130 per month on average or $1,820 if the individual is categorized as being legally blind, the SSA will conclude that you are in fact conducting substantial gainful activity and as such will not be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance.

Approval of SSDI

Individuals who are approved will begin to receive benefits after they have underwent the condition for a period of 5 months. For example, even if you are approved instantly because you are experiencing a critical condition such as a kidney transplant, your checks will begin to arrive on the sixth month after you initially started experiencing the said condition.

Statistics demonstrate that most people are not approved until a period of 6 to 12 months have passed. In the instance where an individual is approved for benefits after they appealed a previous rejection, they will be able to get what is known as “disability back pay”. This payment kicks in on the 6 month after their disability initially began.

Individuals will begin to receive what is known as a “disability benefit check” on a monthly basis. In some instances, a recipient’s family may be eligible to receive partial benefits on a monthly basis as well.

In general, however, individuals are able to receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits if their condition hampers their ability to work. Individuals who are approved for benefits will also be subjugated to a ongoing disability review every 1-3 years, to evaluate if the underlying condition has improved.

Denial of SSDI

Applications for SSDI that are denied can be appealed. However, you will have to request a review within a time span of 60 days from which you initially received the denial letter.

The first thing you would have to do is to complete a “Request for Reconsideration”. This essentially means that another claims examiner will evaluate your file. If you are denied again at this point, you can go to the next stage of appeal by requesting a hearing with a judge.

If you have questions regarding Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and how it may apply to your situation, contact the social security disability attorneys at Gustad Law by calling 206-533-2222 or by filling out our brief contact form.

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