Skip to Main Content
Person using laptop computer

SSDI Eligibility & Appeals

Eligibility for SSDI

  • An individual must be at least age 18 and neither able to work nor to earn more than the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level due to a severe medical condition that is expected to last for at least 12 months.
  • The individual must have insured status for SSDI or be eligible to collect CDB or DWB off the work record of a family member with insured status.

How to earn credits toward SSDI insured status

  • Employees put money into the Social Security trust fund through FICA payroll tax deductions, and self-employed individuals also pay these taxes. These contributions are kept track of through credits.
  • In 2024, if a person has gross earnings of $1,730, they earn one credit whether that money was earned in a month or in several months.
  • In 2024, once an individual has $6,920 in gross earnings, they have earned the maximum of four credits for the year.
  • The amount needed to earn a credit is adjusted each year.

Credits needed for insured status depends on age

  • After age 31: An individual must have earned twenty credits within the last 10 years.
  • Ages 24 through 30: An individual needs credits based on working roughly half the time between age 21 and the age they’ve become disabled.
  • Before age 24: An individual needs six credits earned in the 3-year period ending when their disability starts.

Benefits for disabled family members

  • Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB) is for adults whose disability started before age 22 if one of their insured parents has become disabled or retired, or has died.
  • Disabled Widows/Widowers Benefit (DWB) is for a surviving spouse who is disabled and at least age 50 but not yet age 60 if their late spouse was insured.

Medical Continuing Disability Reviews

  • SSDI beneficiaries will experience periodic reviews to see if their medical condition has improved so that they can work above the SGA level.
  • If SSA finds medical improvement, then the agency will propose terminating the SSDI payments.

SSDI appeals

  • If SSA denies an SSDI application or proposes terminating SSDI payments, the SSDI beneficiary may appeal that decision.
  • The notice from SSA will have details about when and how to appeal.