Q: I'm applying online for disability benefits. What is the difference between the disability application and the disability report? Do I have to complete both?
A: Yes, you will need to complete both when you apply for disability benefits. To receive Social Security disability benefits, you must file a disability application. A disability report provides information about your current physical or mental condition and we need this to process your disability application. You should complete a disability application, a disability report, and an authorization to release medical records to file a claim for disability benefits. To learn more, and to apply online, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability.
How long to qualify?
Q: How do I know if I have worked long enough to qualify for Social Security disability benefits?
A: You must have worked long enough — and recently enough — under Social Security to qualify for disability benefits. Social Security work credits are based on your total yearly wages or self-employment income. You can earn up to four credits each year. The amount needed for a credit changes from year to year.
In 2013, for example, you earn one credit for each $1,160 of wages or self-employment income. When you have earned $4,640, you've earned your four credits for the year. The number of work credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which you earned in the last 10 years, ending with the year you become disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits. To learn more, see our Disability Planner at www.socialsecurity.gov/dibplan/dqualify3.htm.
This column was prepared by the Social Security Administration. For fast answers to specific Social Security questions, call Social Security toll-free at (800) 772-1213. For more information, go to www.socialsecurity.gov.