SSI & SSDI Benefits Qualification in California

elderly woman ssi benefits qualification

Los Angeles – Orange County – California

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a disability benefits program operated by the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSDI provides monthly benefits to California residents who become disabled before reaching retirement age. Because of the strict eligibility requirements, and because navigating the application process is daunting, it is essential to consult a trustworthy disability benefits attorney.

Roeschke Law, LLC provides comprehensive legal services to disabled individuals and their families throughout California. Our practice is focused exclusively on all levels of the disability benefits process, from filing the initial claim, appealing denials, to representing clients at disability hearings. If you are seeking disability benefits under the SSDI program, it is crucial to understand the eligibility requirements. When you work with our legal team, we will guide you through the qualification process and help you obtain the disability benefits you deserve.

SSI & SSDI Benefit Qualification

To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have been employed for a certain number of years and have paid into the Social Security system through FICA payroll deductions. Additionally, you must have a qualifying medical condition that prevents you from performing your job or any other type of work.

Work Credit Requirements

To obtain SSDI, you must have earned a certain number of work credits, which is based on a number of factors. Generally, each year that you work counts as four work credits. As you age, however, you must acquire more credits to qualify for disability benefits. As an example, a person who is 50 years of age at the onset of a disability must have accumulated 28 credits, or worked for at least seven years, five of which must have been within the last 10 years.

The SSA also determines whether you qualify for disability benefits by converting your earnings into works credits. Currently, earning $1,300 equates to one Social Security credit, so it would be necessary to earn $5,200 to obtain the maximum four credits for the year. While only minimal earnings may be needed to qualify, it is important to remember that your average earnings during your working years will determine your monthly benefit payment.

Additional Work Tests

In addition to the work credit requirements, there are two additional tests — the recent work test and the duration of work test:

Recent Work Test

Under the recent work test, work credits must also have been acquired during a certain time period. Applicants 31 or older must have worked 5 of the last 10 years to qualify, which means that 20 credits have been earned. For those between 24 and 31, it is necessary to have worked at least half the time since turning 21. As an example, a 29-year old person must have worked at least four of the last eight years, or have earned 16 credits. Finally, applicants under 24 must have worked at least one and a half years in the three-year period before becoming disabled, or have earned 8 credits.

Duration of Work Test

Under the duration of work test is necessary to have worked a certain number of years and earned the related number of credits, based on your age:

Age Number of Credits Needed Number of Years Worked
21-24 6 1.5
24-31 6 to 18 1.5 to 4.5
31-42 20 5
44 22 5.5
46 24 6
48 26 6
50 28 7
52 30 7.5
54 32 8
56 34 8.5
58 36 9
60 38 9.5
62 or older 40 10

The experienced disability benefits attorneys at Roeschke Law, LLC are knowledgeable in the SSDI work credit and work test requirements and know how to show that you meet the eligibility requirements.

Medical Eligibility

To qualify for SSDI, you must also have a physical or mental medical condition that meets the SSA’s definition of disability — that is a severe, long-term, total disability. In short, the medical condition must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least one year, or result in death.

While the term “total disability” means that you are unable to perform any substantial gainful activity (SGA), you are not prohibited from working. Instead, there are limits to how much you can earn each month. If you are currently working and earn over $1,170 per month (or $1,950 for blind applicants), this is considered SGA, which means that you are ineligible for SSDI.

It is worth noting that the SSA maintains a listing of qualifying medical conditions (the Blue Book). Generally, if your condition is listed, you are eligible for benefits, however, you may still qualify even if your condition is not listed, provided that your condition is deemed to be medically equivalent to a listed impairment. At Roeschke Law, LLC we will work with your treating physicians and other experts to demonstrate that your impairment is a qualifying medical condition.

SSDI Approvals

Once your application for SSDI is approved, you will not receive benefits until you have been disabled for five full months. Moreover, you will continue receiving SSDI benefits as long as you are unable to work. The SSA will perform a continuing disability review of your case to determine if your medical condition has improved. Cases are generally reviewed every three to seven years, depending on the prognosis.

Contact Our California Social Security Disability Attorney

Although you may be entitled to SSDI, obtaining these vital public benefits is challenging. The fact that nearly two-thirds of initial claims are denied makes it imperative to work with an experienced disability benefits attorney. Proper legal representation can mean the difference between having your claim denied and obtaining the benefits you deserve.

When you partner with Roeschke Law, LLC, you can trust us to stand by you every step of the way. Knowing that dealing with the governmental bureaucracy can be intimidating, we will treat your case with the personal attention it deserves and fight tirelessly to enforce your rights. Please contact our office today for a free evaluation of your case.