The Social Security Disability program provides monthly income to qualifying individuals who are unable to work for at least one year because of a mental or physical disability. The Social Security Administration considers your lifetime hours worked in a job covered by Social Security Disability Insurance along with evidence of your disability and its impact.

Read on to learn more about whether you may be eligible for SSDI after a debilitating illness or injury.

Qualifying work credits

Employees who work for companies covered by SSDI can earn up to four work credits each year. In 2019, you receive one credit per $1,360 you earn until you reach the four-credit limit. Most employees qualify for SSDI with 40 work credits as long as they earned 20 credits in the past decade. However, if you become disabled at a young age, you can potentially qualify for SSDI with fewer work credits.

Qualifying disabilities

If you have enough work credits, the SSA will review the evidence of your disability. You can potentially receive benefits if your disability prevents you from doing the work you used to do and from adapting to a new type of work. You do not qualify if your disability will likely last less than a year. Some questions the SSA asks in evaluating your eligibility include the following:

  • Have you stopped working because of your disability?
  • Are you unable to perform basic tasks such as standing, sitting, lifting, walking or remembering?
  • Do you have an illness or injury listed in the agency’s Listing of Impairments?
  • Do you have blindness or low vision that prevents you from working even with corrective lenses?

Some of the most common disabilities represented in SSDI applications include damage to the bones, muscles or tendons, mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and mood disorders, heart disease and cancer. If you receive a denial for SSDI benefits, you have the right to appeal the SSA decision.