Social Security Disability Eligibility Criteria
SSDI is an insurance program for workers who have paid into the system (FICA taxes) and subsequently become disabled and unable to work. SSDI can also provide monthly disability benefits and health coverage for a deceased, disabled or retired worker’s disabled dependents.
For workers who have paid into the system (FICA withholding) there is an earnings requirement to become insured for coverage. A worker must meet two different earnings tests to obtain coverage or insured status.
After insured status has been established you must then prove that you are disabled. The Social Security Administration defines disability as the inability to do any substantial gainful work. You must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. It is important to understand that you do not need to be permanently disabled. You only need to have a condition that prevents you from working for at least 12 months. When your condition improves and you’re ready to return to work the benefits can be terminated.
Also, the onset of your disabling condition must be prior to the date last insured and at least 5 months prior to full retirement age.