Do I Qualify for Disability Benefits? DAG Radio, Episode 2

Do I qualify for disability article image

Hi, there. I’m Jack Hawkins, host of DAG radio. In today’s episode we’re talking about one of the topics our audience finds most interesting: Do I qualify for disability benefits? We’re going to take apart some of the details that hang up most applicants. You’ll listen to 13 minutes packed with information about 100% disability, earning credits, the 20 credits per year rule, and the differences between SSDI and SSI. What you find out here may surprise you.

Here’s the episode, with a short summary beneath:



Qualifying for disability benefits can be a complicated business. The nature of your injury may qualify you for various programs, and it can be difficult to know which ones you need.

How Do I Qualify for Disability Benefits Based on My Medical History?

In order to qualify for disability benefits from Social Security, you need a 100% disability rating from your doctor. Here’s what “total disability” means from the SSA’s perspective:

  1. You cannot do work you did before
  2. You cannot adjust to other work based on your medical condition
  3. Your disability has lasted or will last for at least a year

All of these requirements have to be met. If you don’t meet these requirements, then you may qualify for workers’ compensation instead of Social Security disability benefits, depending on how, when, and where you were injured.

Do I Qualify for Disability Benefits If I’m Not Working Full Time?

If you’ve been working at a job where you paid Social Security taxes, then you may qualify for benefits—but there are still some requirements you have to meet.

The SSA has set up “credits” to determine who has paid enough taxes to merit benefits. Here is what those credits mean and what the requirements are:

  1. You must accumulate 40 credits
  2. You can only accumulate 4 credits per year
  3. You must have worked in jobs covered by Social Security
  4. In 2018, you earn one credit for every $1,320 you make, which means you need to make $5,360 in a year to get all 4 credits (that changes from year to year)
  5. You need to have earned 20 credits in the 10 years before you became disabled (minimum 5 years working full-time)
    • Younger workers may qualify with fewer credits—you may want to talk to a disability lawyer to see if you qualify for these special circumstances

Do I Qualify for Disability Based On My Current Age?

You must be under 65 years old. If you’re over retirement age, you may qualify for regular Social Security payments, but not disability checks. The SSA won’t allow you to double up, so when you qualify for the next program, that’s where you go.

Do I Qualify for Disability Under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Program?

Many people don’t know that they’ve been buying disability insurance their entire careers. It’s called Social Security disability insurance, or SSDI. Here’s what it looks like:

  • Pays benefits to you and to certain family members
    • Spouse (married or divorced)
    • Children
    • Disabled child
    • Adult child disabled before age 22
  • Each family member may be eligible for up to 50% of your disability rate, up to 150 – 180% of your disability benefit

SSDI is available to workers who have earned the 40 credits required for disability benefits.

Do I Qualify for Disability Under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program?

If you’re on limited income and you have been working, but you don’t qualify for the 20 points, then you may be able to get Supplemental Security Income, or SSI.

  • Designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people
  • It provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter

The Social Security Advisory Board has said that SSI applicants get the most benefits from the help of a disability lawyer. In their own words, “the SSI allowance rate for represented claims was significantly higher…almost double the overall allowance rate.”

Once I’m Approved, Do I Qualify for Disability Benefits Permanently?

You will continue to receive benefits as long as you are disabled. The law requires that you get re-evaluated from time to time (though no specifically timeline is set).

There are two circumstances—both of which are very good news—under which your benefits may end:

  1. Your health improves and you are no longer disabled
  2. You want to go back to work instead of depending on disability benefits
    1. According to the SSA, this is the reason the majority of recipients stop receiving benefits.

So next time you hear someone ask, “Do I qualify for disability benefits,” you will know exactly what to tell them. But even when you know all this information, qualifying for Social Security disability (SSDI and SSI) can be a real headache. Talk to a disability lawyer, entirely free, to get your questions answered and see how to proceed. Just click the button below to start your free disability benefits evaluation now.

Get Your Free Benefits Evaluation