How to Qualify for Social Security Benefits

If you're attempting to qualify for social security benefits, you're either disabled, a spousal survivor with children, or past the age of 62. If you're simply old enough to qualify, then the process is quite easy. If, however, you want to qualify because you're disabled, you have quite a few hoops to negotiate. This is particularly difficult for most people because it's at a time where hoop jumping is the last things they want to do or even have the energy to accomplish.

Things You'll Need

  • Certified birth certificate
  • Photo ID
  • List of doctor's and hospitals with dates
  • List of medication
  • Dependent children's social security number
  • Spousal social security number
  • Work history

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Qualify with Disability

Check the number of quarters you worked. In order to receive social security disability you have to a specific number of credits. The amount of you need to earn to get a credit varies. For the year 2009, it was $1090. Simply add the total wages you've earned where you paid social security and divide by $1090 and you'll find how many credits you have. Remember that you must earn 20 of them in the past 10 years.

Calculate your age into the equation. Depending on your age at the time of disability, you might need fewer credits to qualify. Check the chart at the social security site listed in the resource area.

See if you have a disability according to the social security definition. In this definition, you can't perform your normal occupation. Your medical condition also eliminates the possibility that you can adjust for other work.

Wait until your disability lasts a year. You won't get any disability if you're illness or handicap goes away before a year is finished.

See how much you can earn. For the year 2009, if you earned more than $980 average a month, you don't qualify for social security disability. If you didn't work, the condition must interfere with work related tasks or the Social Security administration says you're not disabled. In addition, a list of conditions automatically qualifies you for disability. Different types of disabilities take differing amounts of approval time. A compassionate allowance is the fastest and is for grave illnesses.

Use a parent's social security record if you're a child that had a disability before 22. Children born with disabilities or received them without a chance to work can use parent's social security records in lieu of their own.

Complete an application online, call the social security office or go there in person to fill out an application. You need the names and addresses of all hospitals and doctors you saw and the dates. You'll also need your social security number, your minor children’s social security number, spousal social security number, list of medications, military discharge papers if you were military, a certified birth certificate, your last W-2 or tax form for self employed, alternative contact person and a list of all the places you worked the last 15 years before the disability occurred.

Widow with Children and Retirement

Use the same technique described in the first section to determine if you qualify for social security benefits based on the length of time you worked.

Find out what age you can retire and the amount of social security you'll receive as a benefit.

Understand that early benefits mean you're limited in the amount of money you earn or you'll lose benefits.

Take the information about your place of birth and date of birth. You'll also need the routing number and account number of your bank account if you're transferring money electronically. If you're applying for widow/widower benefit, you need a certified death certificate and the information for the deceased spouse. You need children's social security numbers if you're applying as a widow/widower. You'll also need your income for the present and past year, an estimate of next year's earnings, employers' addresses, a copy of your earnings statement from social security and spouse and ex-spouse names and addresses.

Fill out an application. Find the applications online or go in person to the social security office.

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