Disability is something most people don’t like to think
about. But the chances that you’ll become disabled
probably are greater than you realize. Studies show that
a 20-year-old worker has a 1-in-4 chance of becoming
disabled before reaching full retirement age.
Disability benefits are paid through two programs: the
Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) program and
the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.
This section is about SSDI.
Who can get Social Security disability benefits?
Social Security pays benefits to people who can’t work
because they have a medical condition that’s expected
to last at least one year or result in death. Federal law
requires this very strict definition of disability. While some
programs give money to people with partial disability or
short-term disability, Social Security does not.
How do I meet the earnings requirement for
In general, to get disability benefits, you must meet two
different earnings tests:
- A recent work test, based on your age at the time you
became disabled; and
- A duration of work test to show that you worked long
enough under Social Security.
- Certain blind workers have to meet only the duration of
The following table shows the rules for how much work
you need for the recent work test, based on your age
when your disability began. We base the rules in this table
on the calendar quarter in which you turned or will turn a
The calendar quarters are:
First Quarter: January 1 through March 31
Second Quarter: April 1 through June 30
Third Quarter: July 1 through September 30
Fourth Quarter: October 1 through December 31
The following formula shows how many quarters of
coverage you need to meet the duration of work test:
When should I apply and what information do I need?
You should apply for disability benefits as soon as
you become disabled. Processing an application for
disability benefits can take three to five months. To
apply for disability benefits, you’ll need to complete an
application for Social Security benefits.
We can help you with your application for SSDI. For a free evaluation to determine if you may be eligible, please contact us at 407-738-3718.