Eligibility for Michigan Social Security Disability Benefits

If you become disabled, your inability to work in and of itself does not necessarily qualify you for the benefits established under Title II of the Social Security Act; you must also meet minimum contribution requirements. Having a basic understanding of how the Social Security Disability system works can help answer many of your questions when applying for benefits.

DIB: A Massive Insurance Program

Social Security Disability (SSD) is also known, perhaps more accurately, as Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB). Everyone who works and pays Social Security taxes (the FICA withholding on your paystub) makes contributions to the national Social Security fund. If you pay enough into the system, you are considered insured against disability and may be eligible to begin drawing funds if you become unable to work.

Every year, workers contributing to the Social Security fund earn work credits. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the number of credits you receive in a year depends on your total wages or income. For example, in 2011, workers will receive one credit for every $1,120 of earned income. The amount required to receive a work credit changes annually to account for inflation. The number of credits that can be earned annually is capped at 4.

The number of credits you need to be considered insured under DIB varies based on your age. Before age 24, you only need to have accumulated 6 credits in the 3 years before becoming disabled. Between the ages of 24 and 31, you must have earned the equivalent of 4 credits for at least half the years between the age of 21 and the age at which you became disabled (i.e., if you became disabled at 29, you would need to have earned 16 credits within the last 8 years).

After age 31, you need a total of 20 credits and at least 20 of your credits must have been earned in the 10 years prior to becoming disabled in order to qualify for DIB benefits. Thus, after you cease working, a “date last insured” may be calculated. If you become disabled before the date last insured, you should receive benefits. A Michigan SSD attorney can help you determine your eligibility for social security disability benefits based on your employment history.

Fully Understanding Your Right to DIB Benefits

Even though DIB coverage generally follows the format outlined above, there are exceptions and modified rules for certain situations; do not automatically assume that you are or are not covered by DIB before talking to a Michigan social security disability attorney.