To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, SSDI you would need to meet the eligibility for both medical and non-medical qualifications for SSDI. The most common reason for denial is not being able to meet the medical qualifications but an inability to meet the non-medical criteria. This happens simply because not many people are aware of it.
While you might be chronically ill and meet all the medical requirements, you may still be denied SSDI claims because you do not have enough work credits or haven't paid the FICA taxes.
How does your work history affect SSDI qualification?
Ever wondered where does your hard earned money go? You must have noticed that often the amount you receive in your monthly paycheck may always be lesser than the amount initially stated on your work contract from the employer. This is because many companies pay the social security taxes on their employees. In short, all individuals who work have FICA taxes deducted from their paychecks automatically.
Since the SSDI is an insurance program it is funded by the Federal Insurance Contribution Act, FICA taxes collected from people who work and redistributed to those in need. If you pay FICA taxes, you basically pay into the Social Security Disability Insurance program. To be able to claim your social security you need to have worked and paid enough taxes into the system to retain coverage along with meeting the medical requirements.
Non-medical requirements to qualify for SSDI
The Social Security Disability is for disabled people who have earned enough work credits but are unable to perform substantial gainful activity, SGA due to the disability now. In 2020, you receive one work credit for each $1410 you earn through your substantial gainful activity. Hence, you would need a total of $5640 to earn a total of 4 acquirable work credits per year. Having enough work credits is crucial to qualify for SSDI, but there are also a few other exceptions and requirements to that rule:
- Disabled before 24 years old: If you developed a chronic disease or a disability before the age of 24 then you need to have earned at least 6 work credits three years before the disability striked;
- Disabled between 24 and 30 years old: you will need to have earned credits for half the amount of time since turning 21 years old to the age when disabled. For instance,if you became disabled at age 26 and have worked for 5 years then you must have earned work credits for half the amount of time you worked i.e., 2.5 years that translate to a total of 10 work credits provided that you earned enough.
- Disabled at 31 years old or older: If you are born after 1929, then depending on your age and the number of years you worked, you would need a minimum of 23 work credits in 10 years before the disability began (5 years of the 10 years require work)
Substantial Gainful Activity, SGA
In addition to the work credits, it is also imperative that you don't earn an amount equivalent under 'substantial gainful activity, SGA' to qualify for SSDI. The monthly SGA amount for a non-blind is stated by the SSA as $1240 while for blind it is $2040.
How does your income impact your eligibility for SSDI?
The Social Security Disability is a rigorous process that grants social security claims after analyzing both medical and non-medical pre-requisites for each person.
The non-medical requirements may include work credits, or a specific number of years you worked in substantial gainful activity, SGA or at least 5 years of social security taxes paid (depending on the number of years you worked). Generally, you will need a maximum of 40 work credits and a minimum of 23 work credits to qualify for social security disability insurance.
The good news is, the SSDI does not consider the number of assets you may have or how much other family members contribute to the household, while analyzing your case for eligibility. The assets and income from other sources are only considered for the supplemental security income, SSI.
On the other hand, the SSA does take into account how much money you earn through your job. You can't earn an income equal to or more than the income stated in the 'substantial gainful activity', or otherwise your claims would be straight away denied.
The SGA amount for persons with disabilities other than blindness is $1,260 per month in 2020. For persons who are blind, the amount of earnings that indicate SGA is $2,110 per month in 2020. If your income is above the stated threshold, you will not be labeled as disabled by the SSA.
Talk to a social security attorney
An experienced social security attorney will be able to analyze whether you will qualify for social security on your medical and non-medical terms or not. While you can always re-appeal your claims if you think you are denied unjustly on medical basis, you can never re-appeal if you do not qualify under the non-medical requirements.
A disability lawyer can not only determine your eligibility but also guide you on how you can become eligible in certain situations.
If you or a loved one needs help with filling up their medical requirements for the Social Security application, we highly recommend you avail the counsel of our expert social security disability attorneys for a step-by-step guidance.