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Understanding Social Security Disability Insurance qualifications

The process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits can be a long and arduous process. And, over two-thirds of Social Security Disability benefits claims were denied in the third quarter of 2015, according to statistics by the Social Security Administration. But, if you qualify and can prove your disability, you can receive the benefits you deserve.

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, you must be under your retirement age, have a disability that prohibits you from working and have a disability that is expected to last at least a year or end in death.

In addition, you must not be collecting income of more than $1,090 per month, or $890 per month if you are blind. Unlike Supplemental Security Income, which is a separate program with separate funding, you must pay into the SSDI program. There are extensive rules to determine whether you have contributed enough to qualify.

The Social Security Administration uses "work credits" to determine eligibility. There are two tests, the "recent-work" test and the "duration-of-work" test. Both are analyzed on a sliding scale based on your age, with fewer years required if you are younger. Someone who is 60-years-old must have put in five years worth of Social Security-covered employment. The worker must also have put in at least a total of 9.5 years worth of employment. If, during your working career, you have put in the qualifying contributions for the SSDI program, you may be entitled to SSD benefits to help with your ongoing financial costs.

Source: Huffington Post, "Who Qualifies for Social Security Disability Benefits?", Carrie Schwab Pomerantz, Dec. 14, 2015

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