Serving SSDI Clients Throughout Fresno & Madera County
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is one of the may programs under the Social Security Administration (SSA) that provides monthly benefits to individuals who become disabled before reaching retirement age. Nonetheless, there are strict eligibility requirements and navigating the application process can be a daunting challenge, especially for those battling a disabling medical condition.
Peña & Bromberg, PLC routinely represents individuals with disabilities and their families throughout Central Valley, California and across the United States. Over our many years of practice, we have earned a reputation for helping the disabled obtain the disability benefits they deserve.
Eligibility for Social Security Disability
In order to be eligible for disability benefits under the SSDI program, you must have been employed for a certain number of years in a job in which you paid Social Security (FICA) taxes that were deducted from your paycheck. Moreover, you must have a qualifying medical condition that prevents you from earning a living.
First, you must have earned the required number of work credits, which depends on a number of factors. Generally you earn four credits for each year that you work. As you get older, however, you need to acquire more credits to qualify for benefits. If you were 50 years of age when you became disabled, for example, you need to have accumulated 28 credits or have worked for at least seven years – five of which must have been within the last 10 years.
Moreover, the SSA determines if you qualify for disability benefits by converting your earnings into works credits. Currently, you need to earn $1,300 to obtain one Social Security credit, and $5,200 to obtain the maximum four credits for the year. Although you only need to earn a minimum amount to obtain work credits, it is important note that your average earnings during the years that you worked will determine what your monthly benefit payment will be.
Additionally, there are two tests that you must pass relative to work credits: the recent work test and the duration of work test.
Recent Work Test
For individuals 31 or older, it is necessary to have worked at least 5 of the last 10 years to pass the recent work test, meaning that 20 credits have been earned. Between the ages of 24 and 31, it is necessary to have worked at least half the time since turning 21. A person who is 29, for example, must have worked at least four of the last eight years, or have earned 16 credits. Finally, those under the age of 24 must have worked at least one and a half years in the three year period before becoming disabled, or have earned 8 credits.
Duration of Work Test
This test requires you to have worked a certain number of years and earned the related number of credits, based on your age:
Age Number of Credits Needed Number of Years Worked
- 21-24 6 1.5
- 24-31 6 to 18 1.5 to 4.5
- 31-42 20 5
- 44 22 5.5
- 46 24 6
- 48 26 6
- 50 28 7
- 52 30 7.5
- 54 32 8
- 56 34 8.5
- 58 36 9
- 60 38 9.5
- 62 or older 40 10
At Peña & Bromberg, our knowledgeable legal team can help you determine whether you have acquired sufficient work credits and pass the recent work and duration of work tests.
In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have a physical or mental medical condition that meets the SSA’s definition of disability. In short, disability benefits are only intended for those with a severe, long-term, total disability. This means that the condition has lasted, or is expected to last, at least one year or result in death.
Moreover, “total disability” means that you are unable to perform any substantial gainful activity (SGA). This does not mean that you cannot work, but rather there are limits to how much you can earn. In short, if you are working and earn over $1,170 per month (or $1.950 for blind applicants), you are deemed to be performing SGA and are ineligible for SSDI benefits.
Finally, the SSA maintains a listing of qualifying medical conditions in what as known as the Blue Book. If your disability is included in that listing, you are eligible for benefits. You may still qualify for benefits even if your condition is not listed, however, provided that the SSA determines your condition is medically equal to a listed impairment. The experienced attorneys at Peña & Bromberg are well versed in the SSA’s requirements for qualifying medical conditions.
It is important to note that once your application is approved, you will not receive SSDI benefits until you have been disabled for five full months. This means that if your application is quickly approved, you will not receive any payments for five months. In all likelihood, however, your application will take six months or longer to be approved, in which case, you will receive disability backpay as of the six month after the onset of your disability.
Finally, you will continue receiving SSDI benefits as long as you are unable to work due to your medical condition. However, the SSA will perform a continuing disability review of your case determine if your medical condition has improved. Generally, cases are reviewed every three to seven years, depending on whether the condition is expected to medically improve.
Why You Need to Call Peña & Bromberg
Although the SSA provides vital public benefits to the disabled, nearly two-thirds of initial SSDI applications are denied. For this reason, having an experienced disability benefits attorney handle your case is invaluable.
Peña & Bromberg, PLC is dedicated to serving the disabled and their loved ones. We leverage our knowledge and skill to help our clients successfully navigate the application process. In the event that an initial application is denied, we are prepared to appeal any case to the fullest extent. Our guiding principle is to treat the disabled with dignity and respect and vigorously fight for their rights. Call our office today for a free consultation or complete the contact form on our website.