Understanding Social Security Disability: Does Your Loved One Qualify?

These next two weeks, we’re posting some great articles recently published by the National Family Caregiver Association. If you have never heard of them, I strongly urge you to check out their website at: http://www.thefamilycaregiver.org/

Any family caregiver who has tried to navigate the Social Security Disability Insurance maze knows how confusing and frustrating the process can be. Some may not even realize that their loved ones are eligible to receive Society Security Disability Insurance. In an effort to take a little bit of the mystery out of this government program, NFCA posed some general questions to the folks at Allsup, a nationwide, private Social Security disability claims services company and an NFCA founding partner.

What Is Social Security Disability Insurance?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a payroll tax-funded, federal insurance program. SSDI was established in 1954 to provide people with income if they are unable to work due to a disability, and guarantees income if their condition does not improve. Once retirement age is met — 65 or older — recipients move from SSDI to Social Security retirement income.

Regardless of your age, 24 months after your date of entitlement to SSDI, you are eligible for Medicare benefits.

How do I know if my family member/friend qualifies for Social Security disability benefits?

To help determine whether your loved one is eligible for SSDI, answer these three questions:

1. Does my loved one have enough work credits?

When you work and pay Social Security taxes, you earn up to a maximum of four “credits” for each year. The number of work credits needed for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years. In other words, you must have worked for five of the last 10 years. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.

SSA rules state:

Before age 24 — You may qualify if you have six credits earned in the three-year period ending when your disability starts.
Age 24 to 31 — You may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between age 21 and the time you become disabled. For example, if you become disabled at age 27, you would need credit for three years of work (12 credits) out of the past six years (between ages 21 and 27)
Age 31 or older — In general, unless you are blind, you must have earned at least 20 of the credits in the 10 years immediately before you became disabled.
2. Could my care recipient meet the SSA’s definition of disabled?

People are generally considered disabled if:

• They cannot do the type of work that they did previously.

• It is determined that they cannot adjust to other work because of their medical and/or psychological condition(s). These conditions can include the effects of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, or Parkinson’s disease; physical trauma such as stroke, brain injury, or post-traumatic stress disorder; mental health disorders; or any combination of illness and symptoms that make it impossible for an individual to work. The disability must meet or equal an SSA medical listing (see sidebar).

• Their disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or result in death.

3. Is my loved one under full retirement age?

To be eligible for SSDI, individuals must have been disabled before reaching full retirement age (65-67).

If you answered yes to all three questions, your loved one may be eligible for SSDI.

Read the full article here at the NFCA website.

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