SSA Disability Requirements

The SSA will want to not only see the medical information documenting the condition that causes your disability, but you would also have to show how your disability impedes or prevents you from being able to work. The SSA recognizes certain conditions as disabilities in the Disability Evaluation Under Social Security. This publication is also known as the Blue Book. The SSA recognizes both physical impairments and and mental health disorders.

If you have one of the conditions covered by the Blue Book you will still need to demonstrate that you are unable to do the work you did before becoming disabled and that you are unable to do any other work. You will also need to show that your disability will last longer than one year, or even lead to death.

If your condition does not appear in the Blue Book you can still receive benefits if you can show that your condition prevents you from working or being able to take on alternative employment. Yow will also need to show the SSA that your condition is equal in severity to the conditions listed in the Blue Book.

SSDI Work Requirements

Showing that you are disabled according to SSA standards is just one part of being able to receive SSDI benefits. You will also need to show that you have earned enough and have paid enough into the Social Security system.

The SSA bases your eligibility on your wages in the form of work credits. The credits are based on the amount that you earn. According to 2022 standards, you would accumulate a work credit for every $1,510 that you earn up to a total of 4 work credits, based on earnings of at least $6,040 per year. You will have to have accumulated the required work credits per year for 10 years out of the previous 20 years. For workers under 31 years of age, the amount of work credits per year and the number of required years are reduced.

The Five Month Waiting Period

If you are approved for SSDI, the SSA will issue payments starting 5 months after the onset of your disability is considered to have occured. If your claim is filed more than one year after the onset of your disability the SSDI payments will accrue, but in most cases not be paid until your application is approved. This can take up to 5 months or more. If your claim is denied and you appeal, the process can go on for another 2 years before you receive any payments. There are exceptions for the 5-month waiting period in certain situations such as End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), blindness, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Back Pay

Since it may take longer than five months before the SSA approves your claim, you would be eligible for back pay for the months that you would have been able to receive the payments had your claim already been approved. This would include payments that would have been received starting after the 5 month waiting period and would include all of the intervening months. There is no limit on how many months of back pay would be received in the event your claim gets rejected but you eventually win on appeal.

Retroactive Pay

You can also receive payments for disability benefits going back to 12 months prior to applying if you can show that your disability occurred at that time. This is known as Retroactive Pay. Even if your disability occurred more than 12 months prior to filing your claim, the limit for filing for retroactive benefits is 12 months. Also, this period of time is still subject to the 5 month waiting period for benefits to become available. Back pay and retroactive pay are sometimes confused with one another but there is a difference between them.