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Is it Possible to Receive SSDI Benefits Under The Age of 50?

Disabled young african american man in wheelchair using computer while sitting at his working table

Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) is an insurance program available to qualified workers who become disabled and unable to work. SSDI is available to eligible workers regardless of their means, so long as they satisfy the work credit and disability thresholds. Workers over age 50 have an easier time obtaining SSDI benefits, but even workers under the age of 50 can qualify if they satisfy the requirements. Below, our seasoned Social Security Disability benefits attorneys explain how to qualify for SSDI benefits before reaching age 50.

Work Credit Requirements

In order to obtain SSDI benefits, a worker must have accumulated sufficient “work credits.” Work credits accumulate as a worker remains employed and pays into the Social Security program. Fewer credits are required for obtaining disability benefits than for obtaining retirement benefits.

Employees can obtain up to four credits per year of employment. The required number of credits varies depending on the age at which the applicant becomes disabled. Exemptions apply for applicants who are blind. The following credit requirements apply:

  • Under age 24: At least six credits in the three years prior to becoming disabled
  • Ages 24 to 31: Credits for working at least half the time between turning 21 and becoming disabled. For example, an applicant who becomes disabled at age 27 must have worked at least three years, meaning having obtained 12 credits, in the last previous six years.
  • Ages 31 to 42: Must have at least 20 credits from the previous 10 years.
  • Ages 44 to 62: Starting at age 42, an applicant must generally have two additional credits (or half a year of work) for each additional two years of age. A 44-year-old must have 22 credits, a 50-year-old must have 28, etc. Generally, at least 20 credits must come from the ten years prior to becoming disabled.

Proving Disability Under Age 50

Applicants under the age of 50 must demonstrate that they are fully disabled in order to qualify for SSDI. SSDI disability benefits are not available for applicants who are partially disabled or who only have a short-term disability. The disability must prevent the applicant from doing any substantial gainful work, and it must be expected to last for at least a year or to result in the death of the applicant.

Applicants can demonstrate disability either by suffering from one of the medical conditions specifically listed in the SSA’s “listing of impairments” (listings). The listings include conditions like statutory blindness, chronic pulmonary disorders, and cancer. Meeting a listing qualifies an applicant for disability benefits regardless of age.

Alternatively, applicants can prove disability by way of the “grids.” The grids are a series of tables used to evaluate an applicant’s level of disability based on their age, education level, skill level of prior work, and residual functional capacity (ability to work and perform basic functions). Older applicants have an easier time proving disability. Applicants under age 50 face a serious uphill battle proving disability under the grids.

Trusted Assistance Collecting California Disability Benefits

For help obtaining disability benefits in southern California or statewide, call the experienced and effective Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSD/SSI) attorneys Drake & Drake at 818-914-4055.

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