How to Qualify for Government Disability


The U.S. government provides disability benefits to its citizens that are permanently or temporarily unable to work. The payments are in the form of monthly checks that the disabled can use to help meet their living expenses. The Social Security Administration (SSA) handles the U.S. disability funds. Using federal policy and strict rules of their own, the SSA determines who is eligible for disability benefits. There are some general guidelines to consider when trying to qualify for government disability benefits.

  • Meet the "definition of disability". According to the SSA, you are disabled if you can't resume your work performed before the injury. Furthermore, no adjustments can be made to help you keep your job. Your are deemed disabled if the condition will last longer than a year or the injuries will eventually lead to death, according to the SSA.

  • Consider all aspects of your injury. You may meet the definition of disabled, but the SSA still has to qualify you as eligible for benefits. To do so, they take a broader look at your circumstances. Disabled individuals who have a job that averages $1,000 or more each month are not eligible for benefits. Your injury must also be severe enough to prohibit the most basic work skills including other types of work that you've never attempted.

  • Evaluate your work history. To receive disability benefits, you must work to accumulate credit. The SSA determines your credits by the amount of wages you earn each year. Each American worker earns four credits per year, after earning more than $4,000 in that year. (The earnings amount may change.) To qualify for disability, you must have 40 credits, or work 10 years. Five years of that work must be within the ten years preceding your disability application. Younger workers (under age 31) must earn between six and 12 credits, depending on their age at the application date.

  • Look for special circumstances. The SSA has special considerations for people that are blind or otherwise vision-impaired, military veterans, children and the disabled surviving spouse of a person with work credits accumulated. These people can consult an attorney experienced in disability benefit laws to help pursue a claim.

Tips & Warnings

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) exists to aid those who qualify as disabled but do not have the work credits to obtain disability benefits.


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