When a disability leaves you unable to work, you may struggle to pay for your basic needs. But the Social Security Administration (SSA) can give you aid with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI covers your bills when you can’t work.

However, qualifying for SSDI can be difficult. The SSA has a strict and complicated process for approving people for SSDI.

Social Security work credits

Before the SSA will give you SSDI benefits, you must earn work credits. How many work credits you need to qualify can depend on your age. Some people need at least 40, but workers under 62 can qualify with fewer.

To earn work credits, you must earn a certain amount of money that has Social Security taxes taken out of it. For 2019, every $1,360 earns a work credit. But you can only earn four work credits per year.

Does the SSA consider you disabled?

To qualify for SSDI, the SSA must also consider you disabled. When they review your application, they ask five questions about your level of disability:

  • Have you stopped working? – If you haven’t had to quit your job due to your disability, then the SSA won’t consider you disabled. In 2019, you cannot make more than $1,220 a month and still qualify for SSDI.
  • Do you have a severe condition? – The SSA has to consider your condition as severe. This means not being able to perform any of the basic tasks of your job for at least a year.
  • Does the SSA think your condition is a disability? – The SSA has a list of severe medical conditions that qualify as disabilities. Your condition must be on the list. If it is not, you must prove that it is just as severe as anything on the list.
  • Does your disability prevent you from doing your job? – You must prove you can’t do the basic tasks of your most recent job.
  • Does the disability prevent you from any other jobs? – Your disability must prevent you from switching to another type of job.

A complex process

Proving to the SSA that you cannot work can be difficult. Not only do you have to fill out multiple complex forms, you must also show evidence of your disability. Filling out a form incorrectly or forgetting a piece of evidence can mean losing out on benefits. You may want to consult with an attorney to help you apply or if the SSA denies your application.

When you can’t work, the benefits from SSDI can help you pay your bills. Receiving these benefits can be extremely important if your disability prevents you from earning money.