Eligibility for Social Security SSDI and SSI Benefits

Eligibility for Social Security SSDI and SSI Benefits

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are government programs to provide injured or disabled Americans with income when they cannot work.  Both of these are administered by the Social Security Administration, which uses medical and nonmedical criteria to determine eligibility.

The medical requirements for both programs are the same. Your claim will be evaluated according to several criteria. First, it’ll be determined whether your impairment is severe. There are two ways for your disability to be considered severe:

  • There are conditions listed by the government that automatically medically qualify you for Social Security programs. If you have one of these conditions, the examiner will compare the medical evidence you submit to the government’s requirements to determine whether you are eligible.
  • Med-voc allowance. Most successful applicants qualify through a medical-vocational allowance. This is determined by physical tests that measure how well you can stand, lift and move.

An experienced Arkansas Social Security Disability Insurance attorney can help you gather the evidence to prove severe impairment. A similar process applies to mental impairments.

Second, the examiner will determine whether you can do your previous job or any other work, using guidelines known as a grid, to establish your eligibility based on your age and your abilities.

There are financial eligibility requirements for SSI and SSDI. SSI benefits are based on need. Your income must be below the federal benefit rate (FBR), a number that changes over time. Only certain income is included in this determination. Many people are able to work and still collect SSI benefits.

SSDI benefits are restricted based on earned income limits and your work history. Because only earned income counts towards limits, you can collect these benefits while collecting money from investments.

Your work history determines your eligibility through a system called “work credits.” Each quarter-year that you earn over a certain minimal income, you get one credit. The number of credits needed to collect SSDI is decided by your age. For example, a 22-year-old only needs 6 credits, while a 62-year-old needs 40 credits.

Additionally, SSDI recipients must pass a “recent work” test, which varies by age. This test requires you to have worked for a certain percentage of time in recent years. The recent work requirement prevents situations such as people retiring at 50 and then claiming disability at 60.

At the Martin Law Firm, our attorneys help people in the Fayetteville area complete applications for SSI and SSDI. We walk you through the entire process, from your original claim to any necessary appeals. Call us now at or contact us online for a free consultation.