The Social Security Disability
Experts Since 1984

Eligibility for SSDI in California: Qualifications

In order to be eligible for disability benefits under SSDI, you must have paid into the Social Security system through income tax deductions and also have a qualifying medical condition as determined by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Unfortunately, many applications are initially denied for a variety of reasons. By engaging the services of an experienced disability benefits attorney, your chances of obtaining benefits greatly improve.

At Peña & Bromberg, PLC we have a proven track of successfully fighting for the disabled throughout Central Valley, California and across the United States. Over our many years of practice, we have helped individuals who are suffering from a wide range of medical conditions obtain the disability benefits they deserve.

How Does the SSA Define Disability for SSDI Claimants?

According to the SSA, a person is disabled if she or he suffers from a physical impairment or mental impairment that has lasted or is expected to last 12 months or more or result in death. The claimant must also be unable to perform Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). In particular, the SSA considers an individual disabled if a claimant (1) cannot perform the work he or she did before and (2) cannot adjust to other work because of his or her medical condition.

Additionally, there are number of impairments that are included in the SSA’s listing of qualifying medical conditions, including but not limited to:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Depression
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Lupus
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • COPD
  • Emphysema
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Blindness
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Intellectual disability
  • Personality disorder

It is important to note that you may still be eligible for benefits if you have a condition that is not included in the listing but medically equal to one of these impairments. Moreover, the SSA’s definition of disability is different than other programs such as private long-term disability insurance. Social Security pays only for total disability and benefits are not available for partial disability or for short-term disability.

What Are Work Credits?

In order to be eligible, you must have earned sufficient work credits which are based on your total yearly wages or income derived from self employment. Generally, you must acquire 40 works credits to be eligible, 20 of which must come in the last ten years of employment before you became disabled. The amount of income needed for a credit is adjusted each year. Currently, one credit is earned for each $1,300 earned, and earning $5,200 will earn you four credits for the year.

Am I Eligible for SSDI?

SSDI is available to those who have paid into the Social Security system, regardless of their financial resources. Generally, if you are currently working and your earnings average exceed the applicable monthly threshold, you are not considered disabled.

If you are not working, then the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office will make a determination about whether your medical condition qualifies as a disability. In short, your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be approved. If it does not, your claim will be denied.

Additionally, if your condition is severe, but not at the same level of severity as a medical condition on the SSA’s list, the DDS examiner must determine whether the condition interferes with your ability to perform the same work you did before. If it does, the DDS will determine whether you can adjust to another type of work.

In this situation, the examiner will consider a number of factors including your age, past work history, and any transferrable skills that you may have. If you cannot adjust to another type of work, your claim will be approved. If you are capable of performing another type of work, your claim will be denied.

Ultimately, if your claim is approved, you will continue to receive disability benefits until you are able to return to work on a regular basis. In addition, the SSA has a number of rules, known as “work incentives,” that provide ongoing disability benefits and health care coverage but are designed to help you transition back to the workforce.

California Social Security Disability Benefits Attorneys

Given the complexities of navigating the SSA system and the strict eligibility rules for disability benefits, it helps to have an experienced attorney in your corner. At, Peña & Bromberg, PLC we are well versed in the SSA rules, the list of qualifying medical conditions, and have extensive experience helping our clients obtain the benefits they deserve.

We will conduct a thorough investigation to determine whether you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits and work diligently to build a successful claim. Our team will guide you through the application process and help you collect the required medical evidence. In the event your claim is denied, we will continue to fight for you throughout the appeals process. Above all, we offer each client compassion and knowledge and a superior level of personal service. If you need assistance obtaining SSDI benefits, call our office today or complete the contact form on our website.

Located in Fresno, Peña & Bromberg, PLC serves clients throughout Central Valley Califronia including San Francisco Bay, Oakland, Bakersfield, Madera, Stockton, Fresno, Sacramento, & Modesto. The office assists Social Security Disability and Veterans Disability clients nationwide. Member – National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR).

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