Suffering a severe disability can be challenging. In addition to pain, discomfort, and loss of functionality, many may also no longer be able to maintain their employment.

Those who are suffering from a long-term disability may be able to find some financial relief through the Social Security Disability (SSD) program. However, not everyone who is unable to sustain gainful employment due to a disability is eligible for its benefits.  In addition to meeting the medical criteria for disability, claimants must meet the non-medical criteria as well. The vast majority of claimants fall into one of the two categories below.

Title II Benefits (commonly referred to as SSD or DIB)- Work credit qualification

Before the Social Security Administration will even make a medical determination on a claimant’s case, the claimant must have enough work credits.

A worker earns work credits by paying taxes. The amount of taxes needed to earn a work credit is different each year.  Furthermore, the amount of work credits that you need to qualify depends on how old you were at the time of your disability onset.  You can only earn 4 work credits per year. Generally, you must have at least 40 credits, but younger workers may qualify with fewer credits. You can find out if you have enough work credits by contacting your local Social Security Field Office and asking for your “Date Last Insured.” This is the date that you run out of work credits, assuming you completely stop working.

Title 16 Benefits (commonly referred to as SSI)

Individuals that do not have enough work credits for Title II benefits may qualify for disability through SSA’s Supplemental Security Income program.  For a person to qualify, their household income and resources must be below a threshold set by SSA. The non-medical (Financial) qualifications for SSI are similar to the criteria for qualifying for Medicaid through Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services.  To know for sure, you will need to speak with your local SSA field office.

Applying for SSD

Though you may meet both the medical and work credit requirements for SSD, the SSA may still reject your application. Claiming SSD benefits is a notoriously difficult process, with the SSA rejecting well over half of all SSD applications.

There are also a few less common ways to qualify based on a deceased spouse’s work record or a parent’s work record. It is best to discuss with an experienced Social Security Disability attorney to see if you meet any of these other criteria.