Eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSD) benefits is determined by three factors:
- Have you worked enough years to accumulate the required “work credits?”
- Do you meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of “disabled?”
- Do you earn more than the maximum income eligibility amount?
At the Law Office of Daniel Berger, nydisability.com, we concentrate exclusively on helping disabled adults and children obtain the SSD and SSI (Supplement Security Income) benefits to which they are entitled. We want you to understand the process from beginning to end. That’s why we will explain each of these three eligibility criteria in this blog post.
If you think you or a loved one qualifies for either SSD or SSI benefit payments, contact us today to find out about the amount of the monthly payment that could be available.
Criteria 1 — Work Credits
Social Security Disability Insurance benefit payments are funded by payroll taxes and self-employment taxes paid by workers over the course of their working life. Only workers who become disabled from either illness or injury are eligible to apply for SSD benefits. In 2022, a worker earns one credit for each $1,510 earned and only four credits may be earned each year. Generally, to qualify to apply for SSD benefits, a worker needs to have accumulated 40 work credits. At four per year, a worker would have enough work credits for SSD coverage after ten years.
In some cases, when a younger worker is disabled, they need to have earned work credits equal to half the number of years since their 21st birthday. A 26-year-old disabled worker could be covered by SSD if they earned 10 work credits: age 21 to 26 = 5 years. Half is 2.5 years at 4 work credits per year = 10 work credits).
Criteria 2 — What Illness or Injury Qualifies as a Disability?
The Social Security Administration established a universally applied set of criteria to determine who qualifies as “disabled” and who does not. For any person to be deemed disabled for purposes of Social Security Disability (SSD), they must suffer from a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that last or is expected to last, at least 12 months (or result in death) and which prevents them from performing “substantially gainful employment,” or SGA.
When someone files an application for a disability benefit under the SSD program, the claim must be accompanied by supporting evidence from a recognized medical authority documenting the symptoms and manifestations of the claimant’s impairment, detailing how the impairment affects their daily living and their ability to work. The doctor’s diagnosis can be significant because some diagnoses are contained in a book of recognized “listed” disabilities. Matching symptoms and a diagnosis to a “listed” impairment make winning disability benefits more likely.
The SSA also relies heavily on any objective evidence submitted with a claim for benefits. For example, x-rays, MRI and CT-scan reports, lab reports, blood and tissue sample reports, are all highly valued sources of data for the claims assessors at the SSD program.
The SSA also looks for a sustained history of treatment demonstrating compliance with treatment plans and responsible attendance at scheduled medical and therapy appointments. The key fact at the center of all SSD applications is whether the claimant is unable to sustain regular work or income-generating activities.
Maximum Income Limit for SSD Eligibility
Remember that one of the factors that define a “disability” for Social Security Disability is the inability to perform “substantial gainful activities” (SGA).
What are substantial gainful activities?
This seems like a vague term that could be interpreted in a number of ways. But the Social Security Administration defines the term very precisely. To the SSA, substantial gainful activities are an income-generating activity by which you earn $1,350 or more in a month. That is the income limit for a claimant to remain eligible for SSD benefits in 2022. The figure changes each year as it is adjusted for inflation and the cost of living.
Unlike the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program in which a person’s income may cause their benefit to be reduced or to vary from month to month, the Social Security Disability benefits program has no flexibility with respect to this monthly income limit. You receive your full benefit payment if you are eligible or none of you are not eligible.
Attorney Daniel Berger’s New York Disability Law Office Will Fight for You.
Attorney Daniel Berger has been representing disabled adults and children exclusively for years in his specialized legal practice. He established Law Offices of Daniel Berger to notify everyone that the Law Office of Daniel Berger is the premiere New York Disability law firm in the Tri-State area and that the firm’s mission is to get you the maximum possible SSD benefit to which you are entitled.