For individuals with a disability who are unable to work, the government runs a mandatory insurance program designed to provide income. This program is called Social Security Disability Insurance. However, according to Allsup, there are three important program guidelines potential applicants need to understand.
1. You must be currently and fully insured.
In 2010, if you earn $1,120, you have just “bought a quarter.” You can get up to four quarters in each calendar year. To be currently insured, you must have 20 quarters in the past 10 years. A simple way to explain this is working five out of the last 10 years. However, you also would be currently insured if you earned two quarters each year for the last 10 years.
There are special qualifying parameters if you are under age 31 and become disabled. You may be currently insured with less than 20 quarters of coverage.
Bottom line–you can only earn 4 quarters a year and you need 20 quarters in the last 10 years to be currently insured.
In addition to being currently insured, you must be fully insured to be able to apply for disability benefits.
There are two ways to determine if you are fully insured. Do you have 40 quarters of coverage? If you do, you are fully insured. The second way to be fully insured is to have six quarters of coverage plus one quarter of coverage for each year after the year you reach the age of 21.
2. You must have become disabled before reaching full retirement age.
Your full-retirement age varies depending on your birth date and more details are available by using the Social Security benefits calculator. But once you reach that age, you are no longer eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance.
3. You must meet Social Security’s definition of disability.
Social Security uses a five-step process to determine if you qualify for disability benefits, including: you are not gainfully employed; your condition is severe; your condition is on the Social Security Administration’s list of disabling conditions and you will be disabled for more than a year; you are not able to do the work you had been doing before the impairment; and, finally, you can’t adjust to doing any other type of work.
If you fail to prove you meet all five steps, your Social Security disability application will be denied.
To determine your likelihood of qualifying for SSDI benefits, get started with empower and take our Free SSDI Assessment.