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Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld

Relentlessly Protecting California Workers' Rights Since 1956

Who is Eligible to Apply for Social Security Disability Insurance?


Who is Eligible to Apply for Social Security Disability Insurance?

Social Security’s Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are federally funded and administered by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA). Social Security pays disability benefits to you and certain family members if you have worked long enough and have a medical condition that prevents you from working for at least 12 months or is expected to end in death.

At Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld, our Santa Barbara Social Security Disability Insurance attorneys help California residents understand the application requirements and submission process so they can successfully pursue these essential benefits to help enrich their livelihoods.

How Can I Qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits?

To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must:

  • Have worked in jobs covered by Social Security.
  • Have a medical condition that meets Social Security's strict definition of disability.

You have a qualifying disability under SSA rules if all the following are true:

  • You cannot do work and engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of your medical condition.
  • You cannot do work you did previously or adjust to other work because of your medical condition.
  • Your condition has lasted or is expected to last at least one year or result in death.

In addition to meeting the definition of disability, you must have worked long enough — and recently enough — under Social Security to qualify for disability benefits.

Social Security work credits are based on your yearly wages or self-employment income. Individuals can earn up to four credits each year.

The amount of each credit changes often, and in 2023, one credit is earned for each $1,640 in wages or self-employment income, making $6,560 in wages the equivalent of four credits for the year.

The number of work credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age when your disability begins. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last ten years, ending with the year your disability begins.

Younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.

If you believe you qualify for SSDI and would like help applying for benefits, or if you have already been denied SSDI benefits, we can help you prepare a robust application or appeal the denial.

At Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld, our California workers’ compensation attorneys have six physical offices in Bakersfield, Fresno, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Ventura, and Visalia, and our top-tier technologies provide a virtual reach to serve clients throughout California. We offer free in-person, telephone, and virtual consultations to offer straightforward legal advice for your unique needs.

Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options to pursue the best outcome for your critical case. 

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