Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a plan that provides benefits to you and members of your family if you have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.

Who Qualifies?

Only those people who have worked in jobs covered by Social Security can qualify to receive SSDI. The Social Security Administration has established a complex “credit” system for determining eligibility.

While the credit system generally requires you to have 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the 10 years prior to the year you became disabled, exceptions are made on a sliding scale for younger workers. The amount required to earn one “credit” changes from year to year. In 2008, $1,050 in wages was required to earn a “credit.” The amount required in previous years can be found here.

What Injuries are Covered?

Social Security Disability Insurance only covers injuries that leave you totally disabled. You will only be considered “disabled,” for the purposes of SSDI if:

  • You cannot do the kind of work that you did before;
  • The Social Security Administration determines that you cannot adjust to another kind of work because of a medical condition; and
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or result in death.

This is a very strict definition of “disability,” which is employed because the SSA assumes that working families who are out of work on a short term basis have other means (workers’ compensation, insurance, savings, or investments) that can provide for them until they are able to return to work.

Which Family Members are Eligible to Receive Benefits?

When you start receiving benefits, certain members of your family may also become qualified for benefits based solely on your work record. Your spouse, a divorced spouse, your children, and disabled children may receive benefits.

Each family member is eligible for a monthly benefits of up to 50% of your disability rate. However, the limit of the total amount of money that can be paid to a family on a single Social Security record varies from between 150% and 180% of your disability. So, if you have a large family, it is not the case that each of them will be able to recover 50% of your benefits. In that case, benefits to each family member are reduced proportionately, but your benefit payment will not be affected.

Applying for Benefits

A claim for disability benefits takes about 3 – 5 months to process. Click here for a list of information that you should compile before beginning an SSDI application. If you have any questions about your SSDI claim or would like to learn more about the process, please call David Benenfeld at [number type=”2″].