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What Are The Requirements For Social Security Disability

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What Are The Requirements For Social Security Disability

What are the minimum requirements for Social Security Disability Benefits

by Matt Lewis | Jun 26, 2020 | Social Security Disability |

When most people think about social security benefits, they think about retirement benefits. But social security also has a benefit program for people who have become disabled. You have to meet the requirements for social security disability to be eligible. These benefits help people who havent reached retirement age yet, but they cant go to work due to an injury or illness that has affected them for a prolonged period of time.

Speak To Our Tacoma Wa Social Security Disability Lawyers Right Away

At the Alliance Law Group, our skilled Washington Social Security disability attorneys are committed to providing strong, effective legal representation to our clients. To arrange a free, fully confidential review of your disability claim, please do not hesitate to contact our law firm today at . From our office in University Place, we serve claimants in Tacoma and throughout the surrounding communities, including:

  • Pierce County

What Is A Medical

In certain instances, even when your medical condition fails to qualify you to receive disability benefits under Blue Book guidelines, you might still qualify for benefits under a medical-vocational allowance. This medical-vocational allowance takes into consideration whether you are physically and mentally able to perform your job duties, given your condition. The Social Security Administration considers age, education, work history, and experience along with your residual function capacity when determining whether you might qualify for disability benefits under the medical-vocational allowance.

In other words, the mental job requirements of your job might be to read, remember, follow directions, and communicate, while the physical job requirements might include the ability to sit, walk, stand, lift and carry, or reach and bend over. The RFC takes into consideration the limitations of your condition by measuring the maximum amount of work you are capable of performing. If it is determined that you are unable to adapt to any type of work, you might be eligible for disability benefits under the medical-vocational allowance.

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Special Rules For People Who Are Blind Or Have Low Vision

We consider you to be legally blind under Social Security rules if your vision cannot be corrected to better than 20/200 in your better eye or if your visual field is 20 degrees or less, even with a corrective lens. Many people who meet the legal definition of blindness still have some sight and may be able to read large print and get around without a cane or a guide dog.

If you do not meet the legal definition of blindness, you may still qualify for disability benefits if your vision problems alone or combined with other health problems prevent you from working.

There are a number of special rules for people who are blind that recognize the severe impact of blindness on a person’s ability to work. For example, the monthly earnings limit for people who are blind is generally higher than the limit that applies to non-blind disabled workers.

In 2021, the monthly earnings limit is $2,190.

Social Security Entitlement Requirements

Social Security Disability Benefits Guide

Many people who are eligible for Supplemental Security Income may also be entitled to receive Social Security benefits. In fact, the application for SSI benefits is also an application for Social Security benefits. We often need to obtain additional information from the person before we can award Social Security benefits.

The following sections provide information on who may be entitled to Social Security benefits.


    Age 62 or older, or disabled or blind and

    “Insured” by having enough work credits.

For applications filed December 1, 1996, or later, you must either be a U.S. citizen or lawfully present alien in order to receive monthly Social Security benefits.


We measure work in “work credits”. You can earn up to four work credits per year based on your annual earnings. The amount of earnings required for a work credit increases each year as general wage levels rise.

To be eligible for most types of benefits , you must have earned an average of one work credit for each calendar year between age 21 and the year in which you reach age 62 or become disabled or blind, up to a maximum of 40 credits. A minimum of six work credits is required, regardless of age.

The rules are as follows:

Born After 1929


If you are receiving retirement or disability benefits, your spouse may qualify if he or she is:


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What Is A Consultative Exam

After you have applied for SSD benefits, you may receive a call from the SSA asking you to appear for a consultative examination. This call can make you feel both relieved and concerned. You are relieved because your application has made it to the next stage yet concerned that your medical records may not have provided sufficient medical evidence. The SSA could ask your regular treating doctor to perform the consultative exam if he or she has the required skills and equipment.

If there are conflicting or confusing issues in your regular doctors report or if the SSA does not trust his or her report, then another doctor will be chosen. The consultative examiner must be a licensed physician in private practice. During the consultative exam, the doctor will ask you about your medical history and complaints, then will conduct a physical examination.

Remember, this is only an assessmentthe examining doctor will not provide treatment advice or offer an opinion as to whether you deserve SSD benefits. While you could refuse to go to the consultative exam, such a refusal would likely result in a denial of your SSD benefits. If you have questions regarding the consultative exam the knowledgeable attorneys at Sharry & Monfette, LLP can help you get the answers you need for Social Security Disability requirements.

Specifics Of Receiving Ssdi Benefits

SSDI benefits are meant to replace a portion of a workers annual salary. The more you earned, the higher your benefit, up to a certain limit.

If you are approved for SSDI benefits, you receive a monthly check. The Social Security Administration calculates your monthly benefits by using a complicated formula that takes into account your age when you became disabled, how long you worked and your average amount of earnings during your working years.

Benefits are paid out in monthly checks that range from just under $1,000 for those who were making less than $20,000 a year to slightly more than $2,400 for those who were making more than $107,000 a year. The average monthly check is about $1,111.

The amount you receive also is affected by the number of credits you earned during your employment. Workers can receive up to four credits a year, based on earnings. In 2013, for example, workers receive one credit for every $1,160 earned. The amount changes every year, and the credits you earn remain on your Social Security record even if you change jobs or no longer work. Depending on your age, there is a minimum number of credits needed to receive SSDI benefits, but no maximum.

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Health Care Coverage For Disability Beneficiaries

Individuals who are receiving Social Security disability insurance become eligible for Medicare after receiving DI for two years. Low-income individuals who receive SSI are generally eligible for Medicaid immediately. Health coverage is critically important for those receiving disability benefits, because individual insurance policies are likely to be unaffordable or unavailable to them. According to the Academy report, Balancing Security and Opportunity: The Challenge of Income Disability Policy, “Many people with chronic health conditions or disabilities are at risk of very high health care costs. They often cannot gain coverage in the private insurance market, and even when they do have private coverage, it often does not cover the range of services and long-term supports that they need. Current gaps in health care coverage for people with disabilities limit their labor market options in several ways.

What Is The Standard For Disability

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Who is considered “disabled” for SSI or SSDI benefits?

To receive benefits under either program, you must meet the SSA’s definition of disability. The term disability means that you are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity because of:

  • A medically determinable physical or a mental impairment
  • Which has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months or is expected to result in death.

This standard for disability is described in the below paragraphs.

Disability for adults

In deciding whether you meet the disability requirement, SSA uses a five-step analysis:

Step one: are you working?

If you are working and performing a substantial gainful activity, then you are considered able to work. You are therefore not disabled. The SGA limit is $1,310 per month. If you earn more than $1,310 per month, you are probably not eligible, unless there are special cases. For example, you have intensive job coaching to help you work or you work at a sheltered workshop. If you are not earning significant income, proceed to step two.

Step two: do you have a severe impairment?

You must have a problem which significantly limits your ability to perform basic work activities. The impairment must be expected to last for 12 months or end in death. If you have a severe impairment, proceed to step three.

Step three: does your medical condition match one of SSAs listed impairments?
  • Medical findings,
  • Signs, and
  • Symptoms that must be found for your condition to meet the listing.

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Who Is Eligible For Social Security Today

The federal government has several different programs that qualify for benefits under Social Security, including social security disability insurance and old-age retirement. To be eligible for Social Security of any kind, you must work in the United States. This applies to citizens of other countries who are currently working in the U.S., or even illegal immigrants if they worked during their time in this country. You must also pay taxes on your income while you are working part of your income is withheld towards Social Security payments automatically, so no additional money will need to be paid by you later when it comes time to collect your benefits.

We Are With Those Who Need A Helping Hand

The Supplemental Security Income program is a program that provides income support to people with disabilities, people age 65 or older, or blind, who have low income and resources. U.S. Treasury general funds, not the Social Security trust funds, pay for SSI.

If you or someone you know may be eligible for SSI, visit to learn more and apply.

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Were There To Provide Comfort During Difficult Times

The loss of a loved one can be both emotionally and financially difficult. Some widows, widowers, and children may receive to help them cope with the financial loss. The number of credits needed to provide benefits for survivors depends on the workers age when he or she dies.

Unmarried children who are under age 18 can be eligible to receive Social Security benefits when a parent dies.

Financial Requirements For Disability

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On the legal/financial side, if you earn a certain amount of money per month , you are considered to be gainfully employed, and therefore not eligible for disability benefits. In 2021, the SGA level is $1,310 per month. To learn more about substantial gainful activity, see our article on the SGA earnings limit for disability. You are generally allowed to be working and earning up to this amount when you apply for disability benefits.

In addition, for SSDI, you must be insured under the Social Security disability insurance program, meaning you’ve paid taxes into the system for the required number of years and your insurance hasn’t expired because you stopped working too long ago. The work requirements for Social Security disability are a little stricter than for Social Security retirement or for Medicare. The work requirements vary by age, but to give you an idea, a 55-year-old must have worked at least eight years to be eligible for benefits, and five of those years must have occurred within the last decade. For more information, see our article on work requirements and financial eligibility for SSDI.

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    How Can The Social Security Disability Programs Be Improved To Increase Economic Security And Work Opportunities For Beneficiaries

    Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security increase economic security for millions of disabled workers. For beneficiaries whose conditions improve, the programs also provide important incentives and supports for returning to work. Still, the programs could be further strengthened to increase disabled workers economic security and provide a more seamless transition for those who are able to return to work.

    Modernize Supplemental Security

    The value of Supplemental Security benefits has eroded considerably since the programs inception in 1972, as the programs income exclusions and asset limits have not kept pace with inflation and living standards. The current maximum benefit is equivalent to just three-quarters of the also-outdated federal poverty line for a single person. The general income exclusion and earned income exclusion have never been increased. To address this erosion, H.R. 1601, the Supplemental Security Restoration Act, sponsored by Rep. Raul Grijalva and introduced in Congress in April 2013, would increase the monthly maximum benefit to $937, which is 100 percent of the current federal poverty line, and would increase the general income disregard to $110 per month and the earned income disregard to $357 a month. Increasing the income exclusions and indexing them to inflation going forward would restore the monthly benefit amount to its intended value and significantly increase beneficiaries economic security.

    When Will I Receive My First Ssdi Payment

    If the Social Security Disability application is approved, the first benefit will be paid to you for the sixth full month after the date that the disability began.

    Monthly disability benefits are wholly based on your lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security. You can receive an estimate here.

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    What Is The Blue Book And How Does It Relate To Social Security Disability Requirements

    To be eligible for SSD benefits, you must first meet the Social Security Disability Requirements. The SSA publishes the list of conditions, illnesses, and injuries that will qualify an applicant for SSD. This is known as the Blue Book. The Blue Book is used in step three of the five-part disability evaluation process.

    If, after reviewing your medical records, the SSA determines your medical condition meets the requirements of a disability listing found in the Blue Book, then you could be deemed disabled. The Blue Book covers mental and physical impairments and is divided into Part A for adults18 and over and Part B, for children under the age of 18.

    The Blue Book is located online at the SSA website. If there is a listing in the Blue Book that matches your symptoms, you will be required to show your impairment will last for at least 12 monthsor the duration specified in the Blue Book. All listings in the Blue Book require proof of observable medical datax-rays, MRIs, chemical analysis, psychological tests, and exercise tests.

    If you fail to meet all the medical criteria specified in a Blue Book listing, your attorney can argue you are disabled based on medical equivalence. That is, your impairment has the same level of severity and lasts as long as a similar Blue Book listing.

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    Social Security Disability – The Requirements

    When most people think of Social Security, they think of retirement benefits with good reason. But we are more than retirement benefits we offer many online tools to help you plan for your future.

    Use Social Securitys to see what your benefits could be based on when you retire and if your income changes.

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    Can You Do Some Type Of Other Work

    What is other work? Other work is basically jobs that Social Security may claim you are capable of doing based on A) your age, B) your work skills, C) your level of education, and D) the physical and mental limitations you have.

    This is where the information you provided about your work history becomes very important, because Social Security will try to determine if you have the ability to switch from your past work to something else.

    For this reason, when you file your claim you need to be very specific about your past jobs. You need to give good descriptions of what you did on each job so the examiner can look up each job and the requirements it had. If your past jobs are not properly identified, that can play a role in having your case denied.

    The Severity May Differ

    Its important to note that schizophrenia is a spectrum disorder, meaning that its severity and how it impacts each person can vary greatly. There are many people diagnosed with schizophrenia who take well to medication and lead normal work lives. However, there are others who do not and subsequently are unable to maintain any type of employment. If this is the case, the individual may be entitled to SSD benefits to help make ends meet.

    Other disorders involving psychosis that may qualify someone for SSD benefits include:

    • Schizoaffective disorder
    • Psychotic disorder

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    Even If You Believe That Your Condition Constitutes A Disability You Can Still Be Turned Down If It Doesn’t Meet Federal Standards

    In some cases, an applicant may actually be eligible for disability benefits but is denied because the application does not contain information that accurately specifies how the impairment or medical condition limits their ability to work. Additionally, how well an applicant’s medical conditions or impairments are correctly presented could determine whether or not a person is considered disabled for the purpose of receiving disability benefits. Even if the applicant has a medical condition or impairment that is considered a disability according to the Social Security Administration’s standards, the applicant may not eligible due to a lack of work history and work credits.

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