Filing for Social Security Disability insurance (SSDI) is an essential step to take when you're physically or mentally unable to work. However, with the various factors you have to consider, determining eligibility may be a challenge. Simplify the process by becoming familiar with the basics below.

What Qualifies as a Disability?

A disability doesn't automatically make you eligible for Social Security Disability insurance. You have to meet specific standards before the Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider your application.

For example, a qualifying disability must be a physical or mental impairment that has lasted or can be expected to last for at least 12 months or longer, making it a long-term or permanent issue. It also must keep you from engaging in what the SSA calls substantial gainful activity. This does not mean you cannot perform any work activity, but if you earn over a certain amount from work-an amount which is determined and adjusted yearly by the SSA-then you will not qualify for social security disability.

How Do Work Credits Apply?

Social Security Disability

The second part of the process is determining the number of work credits you've earned while working, which depends on how many years you were employed. A minimum of 20 credits during the last 10 years of employment is the requirement for eligibility. There are exceptions for younger individuals who weren't able to work for more extended periods. For example, if you're under 24 years old, you can become eligible for benefits as long as you earned six work credits in the three years before the disability.  

If you do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI, you may still apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The disability requirements to prove your entitlement to SSI are the same as SSDI, but the benefit amount is generally lower and the eligibility requirements are different. The specifics of SSI will not be discussed further here, but if believe you may qualify for SSI, please give us a call and we would be happy to schedule a free consultation.

What’s the Approval Process?

Once the SSA receives your SSDI application, they will evaluate your work history and credits to determine whether you are eligible to apply for SSDI. If you are eligible to apply for SSDI, the application will be sent to the state's Disability Determination Services for a thorough examination of your medical records. If they approve the claim, you'll receive a letter about your monthly benefit. This process often takes around five months.


If your claim is denied, file an appeal with Allen, Nelson & Wilson in Columbia and Springfield, MO. These attorneys have more than 60 years of combined experience in Social Security Disability claims and offer an in-depth understanding of the process. As disability lawyers, they commit to tracking down the facts and provide a personal approach that increases your chances for success. Set up a free consultation by calling (573) 441-2667 to reach their Columbia location or (888) 549-2667 for Springfield, or visit their website for additional information on their services.