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SSDI Cases: On Duration and the Recent Work Test

Our Boston disability lawyers understand that your work history may have as much of an effect on your level of benefits as your disability.

woman-in-hospital-1051476-m.jpgA recent article in the Aiken Standard looks at what the author describes as a “draconian” definition of what it means to be disabled for the purposes of qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

SSDI benefits are only available to a disabled person whose condition makes it impossible to perform the tasks required of his or her occupation. While that seems reasonable, the definition goes on to state that the disabled individual’s condition must also prevent him or her from doing a different kind of work. The disability must also be expected to last more than a year. There is no temporary disability rating under the SSDI guidelines.

Let’s look at how this works. If, for example, you are a skilled welder earning $85,000 per year when become disabled, the fact that you can no longer work as a welder does not mean that you are disabled, according the Social Security Administration (SSA). If their vocational specialist determines that you can perform some type of work, even if that is at an unskilled job at minimum wage, you could be denied benefits.

Assuming you have a disability and the SSA makes a determination that it qualifies, you are still not necessarily going to be awarded any benefits. The SSDI program requires that you have worked in the past and earned a certain amount of money to qualify for any benefits.

The SSA requires you to meet a two-part test to be considered eligible to receive SSDI benefits once it has been determined that you have a disability. The first test is called the “recent work test.” This test requires that if you are 31 years of age or older, you must have worked at least five of the past ten years to qualify. The actual calculation done by the SSA is in terms of the number of credits you have earned. For each fiscal quarter (three months) of work, you earn 5 credits. At age 31 years of age or older you need at least 20 credits to qualify for benefits. There are different numbers of required credits based upon your age.

In addition to the recent work test, there is a “duration of work test” that sets out a number of credits required based upon your age. You earn these credits based upon the total number of years you have worked prior to applying for SSDI benefits.

If you do not qualify for SSDI based upon your number of credits, you may still qualify for Supplemental Security benefits, though this is not ideal. You must also show you are experiencing a financial hardship to receive SSI benefits.

Qualifying for SSDI benefits both in terms of your specific type of disability and your earnings history may be a very complex matter, and you should contact a disability attorney who regularly handles these types of matters.

If you are seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

ON THE MONEY: Social Security disability benefits, July 17, 2014, Portland Herald Press
More Blog Entries:

SSDI Approvals Lowest in Five Years, June 20, 2014, Boston Social Security Disability Lawyers Blog