You may have heard Social Security disability income (SSDI) referred to as an “entitlement program,” but this could not be further from the truth. Entitlement programs are needs-based initiatives granted to people with few resources, and depend on an applicant’s financial situation.
While the Social Security Administration does offer this kind of benefit—which is called called Supplemental Security Income—SSDI isn't a needs-based program. It's an earned benefit of American workers.
How Social Security Disability Works
SSDI benefits were created to help people with debilitating medical conditions who previously paid into the Social Security system. It's not available to everyone with disabilities, and doesn't depend on income or assets; it's a benefit owed to workers based on the Social Security taxes they have paid in the past.
In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must:
- Have paid into Social Security for a certain period of time. You must have worked a sufficient number of years before disability to be eligible for payment through SSDI. The exact amount of time varies by age, and is anywhere between 1.5 to 10 years.
- Have paid into Social Security recently. A worker must have paid into the Social Security system within the past few years to claim benefits. The number of years varies by age. For example, a person 31 or older must have worked at least five of the last 10 years.
- Be unable to work for at least twelve months. A claimant must be able to prove that his medical condition makes him unable to work, and that the condition is expected to last at least one year or until death. Claimants have to meet one of the approved impairment listings, prove their conditions are equally severe to a listed impairment, or provide evidence of their inability to work. Each one of these options requires substantial medical documentation to support the benefit application.
If you think you could be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, you should speak with an attorney with experience in this area of the law. We can help you make your case to the Social Security Administration, allowing you to get the benefits you deserve as quickly as possible.
Fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up your consultation with a Social Security attorney.