If you think that you might need Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, then you likely have a severe medical condition. Perhaps you suffered a traumatic brain injury because you fell at work, or maybe you have been diagnosed with cancer. Degenerative disc disease is a common disabling condition.
When you aren’t able to work or require support for daily life activities and when your medical issues will last for at least 12 months, you can file a claim for SSD benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will look not just at your medical documents but also at your age and work history when determining if you qualify for benefits.
How long do you typically need to work to receive SSD benefits?
Generally, forty “credits” are necessary for SSD benefits
It is not the length of your employment that the SSA reviews but rather your income and the contributions you have made through taxes. Every time your employer pays you or you file self-employment taxes, you make contributions to Social Security.
Those contributions lead to credits that then qualify you for Social Security retirement or SSD benefits. Workers can earn one credit for every $1,510 in income that they earn, although a worker can only receive a maximum of four credits each year. Typically, workers that need SSD benefits must have accumulated at least 40 credits, 20 of which need to be from within the last 10 years.
However, not everyone has the opportunity to develop a longer work history before getting hurt or falling ill. Younger workers with disabling medical conditions can qualify with fewer credits. As a general rule, the SSA expects applicants to have worked at least half of the time since they turned 18.
Medical documentation is more important than your employment record
The SSA will already have internal records of your income and contributions to Social Security. You won’t need to send them proof of employment. Instead, the evidence you must supply will relate to the medical diagnosis you have and its impact on your profession and your daily life.
With enough work history and adequate documentation, you can potentially get benefits that can help you pay your basic cost of living expenses and obtain Medicare benefits when you can no longer work. Learning more about how the SSD benefits program operates will make applying easier.