We have previously written that in order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, you must have a sufficient work history in addition to having a disabling injury, illness or medical condition. While the disability standards are fairly well understood, the work-related standards are generally more complicated.
After your disabiling condition has been established, the Social Security Administration will subject you to two earnings tests. These are the “duration of work” test and the “recent work” test. Both tests take into account the age at which your disability began.
Most SSDI applicants will likely be bound by the standard applying to those who are 31 years old or older. If you became disabled after age 31, the SSA will examine the previous 10 years ending on the date of disability. In order to be eligible for benefits, you must have “participated in Social Security” for at least half of that time. “Participating” in this context means working a job and contributing to Social Security through payroll taxes.
For younger workers, the calculation is similar but with slightly different numbers. Those who become disabled before age 24, for instance, must have participated in Social Security for 1.5 years or more during the previous three years. Those who become disabled between age 24 and age 31 need to have participated for no less than half of the time between the age of 21 and the onset of disability.
These calculations are important in determining whether or not you qualify for SSDI benefits. The actual amount you will receive in benefits is based on a whole different set of equations.
Needless to say, Social Security Disability Insurance can get very complicated very quickly. That’s why many applicants choose to hire an experienced SSD attorney to help them through the process.
Source: Aiken Standard, “ON THE MONEY: Social Security disability benefits,” Greg Roberts, July 20, 2014