Most adults who have a job make contributions from each paycheck to the Social Security program. Social Security withholdings eventually make someone eligible for retirement benefits.
For a small subset of workers, including those who develop terminal illnesses and those severely hurt in collisions, medical issues will end their careers before they reach retirement age. Some of these adults may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits until they are old enough to qualify for retirement benefits.
There are very strict standards that the Social Security Administration (SSA) applies to every benefit claim that the organization reviews. What are the three basic standards for modern disability claims?
You must have a disabling medical condition
The most basic rule for SSDI applicants is that they must have a medical condition that prevents them from working. With a few exceptions including blue-collar workers without much education, those applying for SSDI benefits usually must have a medical condition so severe that they are unable to work at all. If you can work a different job, even if it pays far away, you may not qualify for benefits.
Your condition must last a long time
Many applicants seeking SSDI benefits have conditions that will last for the rest of their lives, possibly including conditions that will cause their deaths. Typically, the SSA expects applicants to present medical documentation that clearly shows their debilitating symptoms will persist for at least 12 months.
This rule, in particular, is why individuals with cancer sometimes have trouble qualifying for benefits, as cancer treatments may last less than a year in many cases.
You need to have a significant work history
SSDI benefits are only available for those who have paid into the program for a long time. Workers typically need to have at least 10 years of full-time work history unless they are still in their twenties. Workers can earn up the four credits toward Social Security benefits each year, and most applicants will need to have at least 40 benefit credits to qualify for full payments.
Learning about the rules that determine if you qualify for SSDI benefits or not can make the application process a bit less intimidating.