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What are the requirements for Social Security Disability Insurance?

The qualifications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are more rigorous than those for SSI. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Worked in a job covered by Social Security
  • Worked in that job for 5 of the past 10 years*
  • Have a medical condition that prevents you from working and renders you disabled (according to SSA’s definition of “disabled”)

*The most common factor that disqualifies SSDI applicants is not having worked five of the last ten years. However, even if you do not meet the Social Security’s requirements for SSDI benefits, you may still be eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Keep in mind that "5 of the past 10 years" is just a rule of thumb, and you may not need to have worked as long to qualify if you are younger.

For example, a younger adult who becomes paralyzed will not be expected to work as long as a 60-year-old adult. Depending on your age and how many work credits you've earned, you may only need to have 1.5 years of work under your belt to qualify for SSDI.

Another important requirement is working at a job that pays Social Security taxes. SSDI is funded by tax payers, so if you haven't contributed to the system, you will not qualify for SSDI benefits.

Would you like to learn more about how to qualify for SSDI? Consider contacting a Social Security disability advocate or attorney today. You can do this by filling out a free evaluation form to get the process started.