SSDI: Are You Eligible?

Yesterday, I received an update from regarding a tool the Social Security Administration offers people applying for Social Security Disability Insurance. I have always wondered how the SSA determines whether a person is eligible for SSDI benefits, and below is a summary of the easy, systematic guide to assist applicants.

The Social Security Administration (SSA), along with the State Disability Determination office establishes eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) by reviewing past employment history, medical records, and disability criteria. The SSA’s definition of ‘Disability’ as it pertains to attaining SSDI benefits requires that an individual is not able do the job tasks of their previous job, that they cannot adjust to another type of job based on their condition or disability, and that the disability is expected to exceed at least one year or result in death.

Below, is a summary of the five-step process in which the SSA determines eligibility for disability benefits:

  1. Earnings: If you have not worked in 2011 or if your earnings were less than $1,000/ month you may be eligible and you move on to step two.
  2. Severity of disability: Is your disability severe? Well what does that mean, you might ask? The condition or disability must interfere with your work.
  3. Acceptable conditions: The condition must be found in a list located on the SSA website and must demonstrate that it is so severe that you are determined to be disabled and meet the following:
    1. The condition must last for a continuous 12 months or longer, or is permanent
    2. The condition must be listed on the SSA website; some categories include Mental Disorders, Musculoskeletal disorders, Skin disorders, impairments affecting many body systems, etc.
  4. Previous job duties: Are you able to do the job duties of your previous job? The SSA will look at your previous job duties, your length of training required for the position, and will determine if you are able to do job tasks based on a comparison to similar work done in the nation.
  5. Ability to work: Are you able to do other types of work? SSA will determine if you are able to perform other job duties or are able to adjust into another field based on your age, education, past work history, and skills.

I hope that helps clarify some of the mystery behind applying for SSDI benefits. I would love to hear your experiences in your process for applying for SSDI.

Please refer to the following resources for information on Social Security Disability Insurance

  1. Determining your benefit payment:
  2. Social Security Disability benefits information page:
  3. Disability Starter kit; everything you need to know before applying:


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