Qualifying for Disability Insurance Benefits

Posted on Apr 04, 2016 By James Ezzell

attorney james ezzellIn an earlier blog post, I detailed what Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) were in terms of Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefits.

In this blog post, I will discuss how a claimant actually qualifies for DIB, as people are often surprised that they don’t qualify for the program anymore, despite having contributed considerable amounts of money to the SSA over the years of their working life.

Qualifying for Disability Insurance Benefits Coverage

To qualify for DIB coverage, an individual would have had to have paid a certain amount of money into the system over a certain amount of time.  When a claimant files for DIB, the SSA reviews the last 10 years of “quarters,” i.e. three month segments of each year, of one’s contributions and determines if enough money has been deducted per quarter to count towards that individual’s DIB eligibility.

For what it’s worth, no quarters are required for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits.  In an earlier blog post, I discussed what else distinguishes SSI disability benefits from DIB.

Minimum Contribution for Eligibility

An applicant for DIB has had to have paid in enough per quarter for five of the past ten years, or 20 of the past 40 quarters, to qualify.  The minimum amount required per quarter for eligibility currently is $1,260.00 for 2016 – the highest it has ever been.  The SSA has a web page that details the minimum amount required for the last several years for those who are interested.

Unfortunately, no matter how much a claimant has paid into the system prior to the last ten years, if they haven’t contributed enough in the last ten years, they simply are not eligible for DIB, regardless of the severity of their illness.

This is black letter law and, if the SSA is correct in its tabulation, the SSA decision is something that typically cannot be successfully appealed.  Now, there are certain exemptions to this rule, e.g. for individuals under the age of 31, etc., but I will cover that in more detail in my next blog post.

If you or your child have been denied SSA disability benefits or suffer from a severe impairment that is expected to last more than twelve months and that prevents you from doing any of your past or other work or is causing developmental delay in your child, please contact our office nearest to you to set up a free consultation appointment to discuss your situation.