According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), most people don’t think about becoming disabled one day. However, the chances of someone becoming disabled and needing Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits is more than most people realize. “Studies show that a 20-year-old worker has a 1-in-4 chance of becoming disabled before reaching full retirement age,” according to the SSA.
Disability benefits are paid through the Social Security Disability insurance program (SSDI). The SSA pays benefits to individuals who are unable to work because they have a serious medical condition that will last at least one year or it will result in death. It is not easy for just anyone to qualify for SSDI benefits; it’s generally harder to qualify for than workers’ compensation or veterans benefits. While some other programs will pay benefits to people for short-term disabilities, that is not the case with SSDI benefits.
Do You Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Assuming you meet the strict definition of disability, you still have to meet other requirements. Generally, for a worker to qualify for disability benefits they must: 1) meet the criteria for the recent work test, which is based on their age at the time they became disabled, and 2) meet the duration of work test, which shows the applicant worked long enough and paid into the system long enough.
If you have been out of the workforce for a long time, or if you recently returned to work after a long period of unemployment, or if you have been a student or a homemaker for a long time and you now want to apply for disability, you may not meet the requirements if you have not worked enough in recent years.
Here are some examples:
If you turned 24 in or before the quarter, you will need 1.5 years of work during the three-year period, which ended with the quarter when you first became disabled.
If you became disabled in the quarter after your 24th birthday, but before the quarter where you turned 31, you must have worked for half that time period beginning with the quarter after your 21st birthday and ending with the quarter when the disability started.
If you became disabled in the quarter where you turned 31 or had a later birthday, you must have worked five out of ten years ending in the quarter when your disability started.
The first quarter is from January 1-March 31. The second quarter is April 1-June 30. The third quarter is July 1-September 30, and the fourth quarter is October 1-December 31.