A Who Qualifies

To qualify for SSDI, you must fall into one of the following categories:

i. You are a disabled insured worker under age 65

You must have worked both long enough and recently enough to qualify. It may not be sufficient that you worked for many years and paid Social Security taxes. When you worked is also important. The law requires that you earn a certain number of work credits in a specified time before you apply for benefits. You can earn up to four credits per year, each credit representing three months. The amount of earnings required for a credit increases each year as general wage levels rise.

The number of work credits needed for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Most people need at least 20 credits earned over ten years, ending with the year you become disabled. Younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.

In effect, you count backwards from the year that you became disabled to see whether you have the appropriate number of credits. That means that credits from many years before you became disabled are automatically wiped out, or expire. This can lead to a dangerous situation for people who haven't worked for many years before becoming disabled. Their credits may dip below the required amount, and they can lose eligibility for SSDI. The date on which they lose their eligibility is called the "date last insured," or DLI—often a subject of dispute in Social Security cases. If you think your DLI is too far in the past to qualify you for SSDI, talk to your local SSA Field Office to make sure—in certain rare circumstances, you may still qualify.

The rules are as follows: • Before age 24—Six credits earned in the three-year period ending when your disability started.

• Age 24 to 31—Credit for having worked half the time between age 21 and the time you become disabled. For example, if you become disabled at age 27, you would need credit for three years of work (12 credits) during the six years between ages 21 and 27.

• Age 31 or older—In general, you will need the number of work credits shown in the chart below. Unless you are blind (see Chapter 17 for definitions of legal blindness), at least 20 of the credits must have been earned in the ten years immediately before you became disabled.

0You can find out how many credits you have by contacting your local SSA office or, if you have access to the Internet, by filling out a form at www.ssa.gov/mystatement.

ii. You are the family member of an eligible worker

The SSA pays auxiliary benefits to people who qualify based on certain family members' entitlement to retirement or disability benefits. Benefits are paid based on the earnings records of the insured worker who paid enough Social Security taxes. If you qualify for auxiliary benefits, you do not necessarily have to be disabled; nor do you need the work credits described above.

Spouse's and divorced spouse's benefits. To qualify for auxiliary benefits as a spouse or divorced spouse, one of the following must apply (42 U.S.C. § 402(b) (c) (e) (f); 20 CFR §§ 404.330-349):

• You are the divorced spouse of a retired or disabled worker who is entitled to benefits, you are 62 years old or older and you were married to the worker for at least ten years.

• You are the divorced spouse of a worker insured under SSDI who has not filed a claim for benefits, you are age 62 or older, your former spouse is aged 62 or older, you were married for at least ten years and you have been divorced for at least two years.

• You are a disabled widow or widower, at least 50 years of age but less than 60 years old, and you are the surviving spouse of a worker who received Social Security disability or retirement benefits.

• You are the surviving spouse (including a surviving divorced spouse) of a deceased insured worker, and you are age 60 or older.

• You are the surviving spouse (including a surviving divorced spouse) of a deceased insured worker, you care for a child of the deceased entitled to benefits who either is under age 16 or has been disabled since before age 22. (These benefits are known as "mother's or father's benefits.")

Child's benefits. A dependent, unmarried child is entitled to child's insurance benefits on the Social Security record of an insured parent, or deceased parent who was insured at death, if any of the following apply (42 U.S.C. § 402(d); 20 CFR §§ 404.350-369):

• The child is age 18 or 19 and a full-time student.

• The child is an adult and has been disabled since before age 22.

(See Chapter 3 for a more detailed discussion of benefits for children.)

Parent's benefits. You may qualify for parent's benefits if all of the following are true (42 U.S.C. § 402(h); 20 CFR §§ 404.370-374):

• Your child was an insured worker who died.

• You are divorced, widowed or unmarried and have not married since your child's death.

• You were receiving at least one-half of your support from your child at the time of death.

• You can provide evidence of this support within two years of the death (you may be exempt from providing evidence if unusual circumstances, such as extended illness, mental or physical

Born after 1929 and became disabled at age:

Credits needed

31 through 42

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  • Kelsie Millar
    Who qualifies for ssi?
    4 years ago

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