When you’re first getting your foot in the door at a company and laying the groundwork for what you’re hoping will be a long, fruitful career, the last obstacle you’ll want to face is a disabling medical condition.
But what if you suddenly find yourself in need of Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? When you hear terms and see acronyms like these, it’s easy to think these programs are for older workers who’ve put more time and money into them.
You may wonder: “Am I too young to apply for Social Security?”
While age is a contributing factor to applying for disability benefits, it is more important that you have a qualifying disability, and that you have earned the right amount of work credits.
SSDI and SSI: What’s the Difference?
For the moment, let’s assume you meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) requirements for a “disability.” Where do you go from there?
Eligibility for Social Security disability benefits depends on the amount of taxes you’ve paid into the Social Security system.
Work credits are essentially the measuring block by which the SSA determines whether or not you’ve put enough of your income into Social Security to warrant SSDI. As of 2019, every $1,360 of your income counts as a credit, and you can earn up to 4 credits a year.
Even as a young worker, you can still meet the requirements for work credits for your age bracket. If you’re in that youngest group of workers (24 years old and younger), you’ll need 6 work credits within the three years leading up to your disability. Even if you only reached 2 credits each of those years, you’ll still qualify.
If you’re under 18 years of age and are applying for SSDI, different rules apply. If this is your situation, we may be able to help.
If you don’t have enough work credits to qualify for Social Security disability, you could apply for Supplementary Security Income (SSI). To qualify for SSI, your countable income must be below the SSA’s monthly limit.
Countable income encompasses the earnings everyone in your household brings in. The SSA will consider how much money a spouse, any parents, or any children are making and contributing to their and your well-being. Even if you’re completely unemployed, you may still meet the standards for SSI.
To simplify: SSDI is work history based, and SSI is income based.
Knowing the difference between SSDI and SSI is crucial in your benefits-seeking process. For a quick rundown of both those terms’ definitions, check out our glossary.
But before you even get to this step, you’ll have to make sure you fall under the Social Security Administration’s standards for disability.
Meeting the SSA’s Disability Requirements
Certain conditions, such as malignant cancers and other long-term illnesses, can automatically qualify you for SSD benefits. Most disabilities that qualify you for benefits can be found in the SSA’s Blue Book.
But if your situation isn’t so cut-and-dry, you can still qualify for benefits if you can provide evidence that your condition is both debilitating and prolonged. Prolonged conditions have lasted at least 12 months or will last at least 12 months. Medical records from your doctor can help prove the severity of your condition.
However, even meeting these parameters don’t guarantee you benefits. As a young worker, the SSA may determine you’re capable of light or sedentary work—especially if your employer offers those options as policy. If the administration swings in that direction, you’re likely out of luck for benefits of any kind, since you can still do some types of jobs.
But every case varies. It’s always smart to get help from a Social Security disability attorney.
Help from an Evansville Social Security Disability Benefits Lawyer
We’ve broken down a lot of complicated legal topics here. Whether you’re fresh out of high school and hitting the workforce in stride, or a new college grad hoping to land the right internship, tackling a Social Security disability benefits application can be daunting.
That’s where we step in. If you or someone you know is a young worker considering applying for disability benefits, Hensley Legal Group may be able to help. Call us today or contact us online for a free conversation about your claim.