Social Security Disability Qualifications

How To Qualify For Disability Benefits

The United States has many different welfare and financial assistance programs. The Social Security Administration is one of those assistance programs where their disability program provides financial assistance to Americans with impairments or illnesses that prevent their ability to work and participate in “Substantial Gainful Activity”. Though anyone may submit an application for disability benefits, not all applicants will qualify. In order to be eligible for disability benefits, applicants must meet multiple qualifications that are program specific be deemed eligible for an approval.

Claimants must first prove through doctor documentation that they suffer from a medical condition recognized by the Social Security Administration that is listed under the qualified medical conditions listings. These impairments that are accepted by the SSA classify individuals as “permanently disabled”. This means that the claimant can no longer perform the duties their current job and occupation holds them responsible for. The applicant must also be unable to transition into a similar or different occupation due to the same medical conditions.

If the lack of being unable to engage in substantial gainful employment is determined and is expected to last for a minimum of 12 months or result in a death, the claim would qualify for disability. The one disqualifying factor may be that an applicant who meets medical criteria doesn’t qualify financially, this usually happens in SSI cases, especially children whose parents are well off.

Disability Claim Help

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Importants Questions When Qualifying For Disability

Questions to ask before submitting a disability application


Q: Are you able to work and earn a reasonable living if on disability?

If a recipient of Social Security Disability is able to find a job that earns over $1,090 a month without having complications at that job, social security benefits would be terminated. If a new applicant for benefits is also able to find a job and earn more than $1,090 per month or work 20 hours a week they wouldn’t qualify for disability.


Q: How do you tell if your disability is severe enough?

If the claimant’s impairment doesn’t directly interfere with basic work related activities that restrict one from working daily and the illness is not expected to last for more than a year or result in death, the claimant wouldn’t qualify.


Q: How do I find out if my disability is recognized by the Social Security Administration?

The SSA has published a list of impairments that recognizes all different types of illnesses and conditions, this listing is referred to as qualified medical conditions or the “Blue Book”. If the impairment doesn’t fall under a category, the claimant can still qualify for disability depending on the severity of the condition. Please consult a professional or Disability Advocate to confirm your condition qualifies for approval.

Qualifcations For SSI Vs SSDI Benefits

Many Americans are unaware that there are two different disability programs offered by the Social Security Administration, SSI (supplemental security income) and SSDI (social security disability insurance). The main differences between the two programs are the amount of disability benefits awarded and the financial restrictions each program has based on work history.

If the applicant of a disability claim has minimal work history and/or a low or non-existence income history, the disability benefits claim would be in the form of SSI. This program is for disabled Americans who have a limited work history and qualify for disability benefits. SSI benefits are on average a smaller monthly amount due to their lack of income and taxes paid to the federal government. The SSA also limits not only the personal income of the claimant but of the income and assets of their entire household.

If the applicant has had an extensive work history before the debilitating condition developed, the disability benefit claim would be in the form of SSDI. This is the second disability program for American’s who have worked five out of the past ten years before their disability application and have paid a certain amount of taxes into the federal government. The average monthly disability check is usually larger from this program and there are no restrictions on the income and assets of the claimant’s household.

To get a better understanding of the differences between SSI and SSDI, refer to our chart below.


 Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)  Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Benefits awarded to applicants based on their work history – work credits earned in the past 10 years or more.
  • Generally applicants must have worked 5 out of last 10 years having earned 20 credits.
  • Applicants shouldn’t exceed working more than 20 hours / week.
  • Applicants should earn more than $1,090 / month.
  • Applicants must be a US citizen, or own a green card having met the have  5 out of the last 10 work requirements.
  • Household income and assets are not counted.
  • Applicant assets are not counted.
  • Household and applicants unearned income is not counted.
  • Applicants typically receive Medicare after 2 years 5 months.
  • Applicants retro-active pay is garnish if debts are owed to federal programs like the IRS or student loans.
  • Only disability program minors are eligible for.
  • Benefits awarded based on income and assets of household and applicant.
  • Applicants haven’t worked 5 out of last 10 years.
  • Applicants must be a US citizen.
  • Household income and assets counted.
  • Single applicant unearned limit = $733
  • Single applicant earned limit = $1,090
  • Single applicant asset limit = $2,000
  • Married applicant unearned limit = $1,120
  • Married applicant earned limit = $2,285
  • Married applicant asset limit = $3,000
  • Applicants typically qualify to receive Medicaid & food stamps.
  • SSI is governed by individual states often offering supplements.

Differences On  Social Security “Retirement” Vs Social Security Disability

The Social Security Administration manages three different federal programs that assist Americans, “SSI”, “SSDI” and Social Security Retirement. Many people confuse the word “Social Security” which is usually in regards to retirement for social security disability benefits; they are two completely different programs.

Many Americans want to know if they qualify for both disability and retirement. The answer is no, once a potential claimant turns 66 the eligibility for disability benefits is gone and the claimant is now only eligible for retirement benefits. If a claimant is on disability and turns 66 nothing changes. The check amount will stay the same with only the code on the check switching from a disability code to a retirement code.

Importance of Medical Documentation

In order to accurately prove a claimant suffers from an illness or condition that is debilitating it is critical the claimant keeps all medical documentation related to their disability, this includes doctor visits, medical treatments and medications taken. Properly storing all medical documentation will help prevent any confusion or excessive questioning about the extent of the claimants disability.

If you believe that you potential qualify for disability benefits, the first step would be to complete an application. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your application and need assistance, please call (888) 504-0035 and one of our experienced advocates will assist you.