Before you set off on that rather arduous trek that is the application process for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), it’s certainly worth making sure that you’re heading out on the right path. If you don’t meet all of the following criteria then your application will be over before it’s begun.

First up, you have to have actually been working for a good amount of time before you became disabled. There’s something of a sliding scale as you get older but once you hit the age of thirty-one you’ll need to have worked enough to have at least twenty work credits. That amounts to five years of work. That five years of work also has to have been carried out in the ten years leading up to the start of your disability.  There’s no credit and therefore no SSDI if you stopped working long before you became disabled. It’s also worth mentioning that if your jobs weren’t covered by Social Security the agency will determine that as you didn’t pay into the system they won’t have to pay out.

Having cleared those fences you have to take on the challenge of meeting Social Security’s definition of what it is to be unable to work. On their terms this means that you can no longer work in your current job, or one that you might be able to adjust to, at a substantial and gainful level of activity.

Of course, it’s not quite that simple as you also have to show that your situation is going to either stay that way for at least twelve months or it’s so bad that you don’t even expect to live that long anyway.

If you meet all those factors and can provide sufficient evidence of it all, then you may well find yourself the monthly recipient of an SSDI check and, twenty four months later, you’ll finally qualify for Medicare too.