Who Qualifies for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Many disabled individuals question whether or not they really qualify to draw an income from their Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). Just because a person has paid into Social Security via their employment doesn’t mean that they will receive benefits. They have to have a qualifying disability, which means they have to prove that they are disabled and unable to work.

The process of acquiring Social Security Disability, however, is one that can be daunting. That is why it is good to make sure you qualify first. Your lawyer can advise you as to whether or not it is a good idea to apply and you can find out about the programs that you can apply for. There are two:

  1. SSDI
  2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Qualifying For SSDI And SSI

SSDI is for those with a disability that keeps them from working. They worked, paid their Federal Income Tax, but now they can’t work and they want to draw benefits. The amount of the benefits will depend upon their previous wage. But the difficult part is showing that the disability has taken away a person’s ability to work. A vocational expert may be called in at some point to mention employment options, which can cause a judge to deny the claim. However, the attorney can cross examine and show why you can’t work. Still, the hearing may end in denial.

It is through the appeals process that the denial can be overturned. If it is shown you will be disabled for 12 months or more or you have a disability or illness that can cause death, then you will likely receive your approval at some point during the appeals process.

As for SSI, it is reserved for the elderly, the blind, and those with disabilities that make it impossible to work or difficult to work a job that earns enough money to support them. These individuals do not have a lot of income or assets and they can prove they are unable to work.


There is a five step evaluation that takes place so that benefits can be determined. They include:

  1. Whether or not you are working and earning more than the current SGA amount. If you are receiving more than the SGA amount, you are deemed not disabled.
  2. The severity of your condition and if the impairment is expected to last 12 months or more or result in death.
  3. If the condition is on the list of disabling impairments that is kept and maintained by the Social Security Administration.
  4. Whether or not the work that was performed previously can still be performed.

If you have the correct answers to the qualifying questions, then you should fill out an application with your attorney. Even if you are denied, don’t let that discourage you because you may be approved during the appeals process.

If you think you may qualify, call us at 651-789-4441