Disability Insurance Benefits

What is the Definition of Disability Insurance Benefits (also known as “regular disability”, DIB, and RSDI), and how do I qualify for such benefits?

Definition of Disability:

For all individuals applying for disability benefits under Title II (Disability Insurance Benefits), and for adults applying under Title XVI (SSI), the definition of disability is the same. The law defines disability as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. See, 42 U.S.C. § 423(d) and § 1382c(a)(3).

These statutes further state:

“An individual shall be determined to be under a disability only if his physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy, regardless of whether such work exists in the immediate area in which he lives, or whether a specific job vacancy exists for him, or whether he would be hired if he applied for work. For purposes of the preceding sentence (with respect to any individual), “work which exists in the national economy” means work which exists in significant numbers either in the region where such individual lives or in several regions of the country.”

See, 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(a) and § 1382c(a)(3)(b).

Insured Status Requirements:

You must be insured under the Social Security program before retirement, survivors, or disability benefits can be paid to you or your family. Social Security considers the number of quarters of coverageyou earned to determine if you are insured. You earn a quarter of coverage (QC)—also called a “credit”—for a certain amount of work covered under Social Security, but you may earn no more than 4 QCs per year. Generally you need to be fully insured to receive Social Security benefits, but other requirements may also apply. Click here for more details on the Insured Status Requirements for Social Security.

Disability Insured Status:

You have disability-insured status if you:

  1. have earned at least 20 QCs during the last 10 years, and
  2. are fully insured.

Exceptions apply for those under age 31 and in certain other cases.

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