Qualifications for Social Security Disability Benefits
Before you apply for Social Security disability benefits, you must determine whether or not you meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of “disabled”.
Disability under Social Security for an adult is based on your inability to work because of a medical condition.
To be considered “disabled”, a person must:
- Be fully insured at the onset of disability.
- Have been employed for at least five of the previous ten years. This applies to disability that begins after age 31. If the disability begins before age 31, you must have been employed for the better part of six quarters, or at least one-half of the quarters between age 21 and the age when disability began.
- Be under Social Security normal retirement age. After normal retirement age, disability benefits become retirement benefits.
- Have a physical or mental impairment that disables you from performing any substantial work, or have a disabling physical or mental impairment that is expected to either be terminal or last for at least 12 months.
It is not uncommon to become disabled in a way that prevents you from doing your line of work, but the requirement is that you must be unable to perform ANY substantial work. This has been a sticking point for many, but it is a strict requirement that must be met in order to receive disability.
Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or short-term disability.