Who Qualifies for Disability Insurance (DI) Benefits?
Today, we will take a closer look at some of the eligibility criteria for disability benefits.
- In order to qualify for DI benefits, applicants need to have worked for at least one quarter of their adulthood AND for at least 5 of the last 10 years. If they do not meet these requirements but their income and assets are low enough, they can apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
- DI applicants must demonstrate that they suffer from a severe and disabling physical or mental condition anticipated to last at least one year and/or end in death. In order to demonstrate the severity of their condition, disability applicants will need a licensed physician (or depending upon the applicant’s impairment, a licensed psychologist, optometrist, speech/language pathologist, or podiatrist) to provide the SSA with medical evidence documenting the condition. However, the SSA may also require a consultative examination (CE) and additional tests in order to determine eligibility.
- Eligibility criteria specify that DI applicants must demonstrate an inability to earn $1,040 per month (or $1,740 for applicants who are blind), a yardstick the SSA has labeled “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). In addition, an applicant’s impairment must be such that his vocational profile (age, education, work experience) disqualifies him from being able to perform any other kind of work available. In other words, he was only qualified to do the kind of work he was doing when he became injured.
- A disability applicant needs to have been disabled for at least 5 months before he can qualify for disability benefits. This 5-month period does not count toward the required 12-month duration of the impairment (see #2 above).
Next time, we will continue our look at the DI program with an overview of the numbers.