How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits

Important: We updated this page in May 2023 to make sure all info below is both current and correct. If you are unable to work due to a physical or mental disability, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

There are two types of disability benefits available to disabled Americans: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is for those who have paid money into the system through previous employment; and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is for those who haven’t met this qualification but meet other criteria for approval such as low income. First, we’ll explain how to qualify for SSDI benefits.

How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI)

Not sure how to qualify for Social Security disability? You may qualify for benefits if you meet the following requirements:

  1. You cannot do any substantial work due to a physically or mentally disabling medical condition.
  2. Your health problems should make you unable to work for at least 12 months in a row, or result in death.
  3. You are at least 18, but younger than 67.
  4. You’ve worked at least 5 of the last 10 years in jobs where you paid Social Security payroll taxes.
  5. You have a doctor willing to provide medical evidence that supports your disability claim.

How to Qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

If you do not qualify for SSDI because you have not worked 5 out of the last 10 years, you may still qualify to receive disability benefits through Supplemental Security Income. This program is available for disabled individuals who haven’t worked enough years or recently enough to qualify for SSDI. This program also pays benefits to disabled children and reviews your household income, resources, and assets. Still not sure if you qualify for either SSDI or SSI? Get a free, no-obligation benefits evaluation on this website with a local disability advocate near you.

To help you determine how to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, we created an easy to follow infographic with the 5-step determination process. Click here to view. 

Improve Your Chances of Approval

The Social Security Administration reports at least 38% of all Social Security disability claims are denied due to various technical issues. If the SSA denies your claim, you could wait 18 months before eventually winning benefits on appeal. suggests that all applicants consider the advice of an experienced Social Security disability attorney before applying for benefits. This service costs nothing out of pocket to you.

Those who qualify for legal assistance through this website usually get at least $13,800 in back pay and monthly benefits. People who apply without a Social Security lawyer usually must appeal 2-3 times to win benefits years later. If the SSA won’t approve your benefits, then the lawyer helping you gets $0. But if your case does win, then you’ll only pay one small fee.

Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now:

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