Qualifications for SSDI are complex. It isn’t always easy to know who is eligible for SSDI benefits. When you understand what’s required, you can decide whether to apply and prepare your application for success.
At Pekas Smith Disability Attorneys, we have represented more than 10,000 people in disability claims. We want you to know the qualifications for SSDI in Arizona.
Qualifying for SSDI in Arizona
Parties who may qualify for SSDI payments in Arizona are:
- An adult with a qualifying disability who cannot work
- Minor child of a disabled person
- Stepchildren and grandchildren of a disabled person, under certain circumstances
- Spouse, if you are 62 years old or you care for your spouse’s minor child under 16
- Widow/widower of a deceased spouse
- Divorced spouse
- Young adults who are disabled before age 22
Each of these people may qualify for SSDI payments, but there are conditions. How a person qualifies varies based on their own circumstances and their relationship to the person who is now disabled. Eligibility is different for different situations, so it’s important to understand what applies for you.
How to qualify if you’re an adult with a disability
If you are an adult who becomes disabled, you must meet the following to qualify for disability payments:
- You have a disabling medical condition. It can be an illness, injury or disease.
- Medical issues prevent you from performing substantial, gainful work. Some medical conditions meet this requirement automatically. In other cases, you must show how your condition prevents you from working.
- Not only can you not do the work you were doing, but you also can’t do other types of work, either.
- It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to work for at least one year or longer, or your condition is likely to result in death.
- You have enough work history to qualify for benefits.
Disability and the work credits system
The Social Security disability program uses work credits to determine whether a person has worked long enough to qualify for benefits. You can earn up to four credits per year. How many credits you need depends on your age.
Adults over age 31 must have at least 40 credits. If you become disabled before age 24, you must have earned six credits in the three years before becoming disabled. From ages 24-31, you must have worked at least half the time from age 21 to when the disability began.
Do work credits determine how much Social Security disability I get?
No. The number of work credits you have does not determine how much your Social Security disability payments are. Average earnings from your work determine how much your SSD payments are.
Exceptions and special situations
In general, Social Security disability is payable to adults who used to work but can’t now because of a medical issue. The medical issue must be long-lasting. There are special rules for people who are blind. Certain medical problems including acute leukemia, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) and pancreatic cancer are flagged for expedited application processing.
How to qualify if you’re a spouse of a disabled worker
If you are the spouse of a disabled worker, and you are 62 years old or older, you may receive SSDI payments based on your spouse’s work history. If you collect a higher Social Security payment based on your own earnings record, you are not eligible.
Alternatively, if you care for your spouse’s minor child, who is under the age of 16, you may qualify for benefits.
How to qualify if you’re a surviving spouse of a deceased worker
If you are the surviving spouse of a deceased worker, you may qualify for SSDI payments if you are:
- 60 years old or older
- 50 years old or older, and you have a disability, or
- Caring for your spouse’s child, who is under 16 years old
How to qualify if you’re a divorced spouse
It’s possible to receive SSDI based on your ex-spouse’s work history. Qualifications for SSDI based on an ex spouse’s work history are complex. It depends on your age, whether you have a disability yourself, whether your ex-spouse is collecting benefits and your current marital status. You must claim benefits from your own earnings record if it would result in a higher payment.
Alternatively, if you care for your deceased spouse’s minor child, you may qualify for that reason.
How to qualify if you’re a child of a disabled or deceased worker
The minor child of a disabled worker may receive benefits. Benefits may continue until age 18 or 19 for students in full-time lower education. Stepchildren and even grandchildren may qualify under certain circumstances. The disabled worker must meet the qualifications to receive SSDI for a child to receive payments.
How to qualify if you’re an adult with a disability before age 22
A young adult may have a disability before age 22. They don’t have the time to earn work credits to qualify for Social Security. They may receive benefits if their parent receives SSDI or Social Security retirement benefits. An adult with a disability before age 22 does not need a work history, but they must not have substantial earnings.
Attorneys to Determine Qualifications for SSDI in Arizona
Pekas Smith Disability Attorneys helps people navigate complex SSDI qualifications standards. For a free consultation about your situation, we invite you to contact us. Our attorneys can determine if you qualify to receive benefits and help you apply for them. Call or message us today.