What Are the Non-Medical Requirements for Disability Benefits?

November 2, 2022

To qualify for disability benefits, you must demonstrate that the symptoms of your physical or mental impairments prevent you from sustaining full-time competitive employment on a consistent and reliable basis.

Therefore you can’t overstate the critical importance of providing the Social Security Administration (SSA) with medical information about your impairment.

However, it’s important to know that even if a person medically qualifies for benefits, they may not always be entitled to Social Security Disability payments. Social Security also has non-medical requirements.

Before the SSA reviews any medical evidence, it must decide whether someone is insured under Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or whether they meet the financial requirements for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

For all disability applicants, the SSA will ask about citizenship, residency, employment history and income.

You will have to provide proof of your age, most commonly in the form of a birth certificate.

You also will be asked about your marital status. While marital status will not have an effect on whether Social Security determines you have a qualifying disability, your spouse’s income can factor into the amount of your monthly disability checks, depending on which type of disability benefits you qualify for. We’ll come back to this subject in a moment.

There are two disability programs run by Social Security: SSDI and SSI.

SSDI pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you have serious health problems and you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes recently enough.

SSI, on the other hand, is based on financial need. The Social Security Administration says, “It is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income.” (For more on SSDI and SSI read our blog article: Why Do I Qualify for SSI, but not for SSDI?)

Non-Medical Requirements for SSDI

In addition to the basic information outlined above, Social Security will review your employment history and your Social Security work credits.

Social Security Disability Insurance eligibility and the amount of benefits payable are based on how much you have worked in the ten years prior to your Social Security Disability claim.

Work credits are based on the amount of your earnings. In 2022, you receive one credit for each $1,510 of earnings, up to the maximum of four credits per year. Each year the amount of earnings needed for credits goes up slightly as national average earning levels increase. The number of work credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age when your disability began.

Number of Work Credits Required by Age

Age Disabled

Credits Needed

Years of Work

Under 24







































Non-Medical Requirements for SSI

If you do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits, you may still qualify for Supplemental Security Income. SSI has income and asset limits (not work history requirements).

To be eligible for SSI, your assets must be less than $2,000 for an individual and less than $3,000 for a married couple. Assets counted by the SSA can include land, cash, personal property, investments, vehicles and more.

However, not all income and assets are countable. Some examples of non-countable income and assets are:

  • A home that is a person’s principal place of residence
  • One automobile
  • The first $65 per month of wages, and the first $20 per month of most other kinds of income
  • SNAP (food stamps)
  • Tax refunds
  • Public benefits based on need
  • Loans that you have to repay

In addition, you can deduct any impairment-related work expenses from your countable income.

To show you meet the SSI qualifications, you will have to submit proof such as copies of financial statements and pay stubs.

Who Determines if You Meet the Non-Medical Requirements?

A Social Security claims representative will evaluate your non-medical eligibility. If the claims representative finds that you do not meet all the non-medical requirements, your claim will be denied. If you meet the non-medical requirements then your claim will be passed on to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office, which will evaluate the medical part of your claim.

Social Security often performs one last review of a disability claimant’s non-medical requirements after making a medical approval in a case.

For example, SSI applicants must undergo an exit interview, known as a pre-effectuation review conference (PERC), to make sure that their eligibility did not change from time of application to approval.

Social Security may request an update on the status of any workers’ compensation claims the disability applicant may have open. For most applicants, the non-medical review at the end of a claim is a comparatively quick process compared to the often lengthy medical review of the case.

How to Win Social Security Disability Benefits

As you can see from this explanation of non-medical requirements, the road to winning Social Security Disability benefits can be complex and difficult to navigate.

That is why it is useful to have a knowledgeable guide—a qualified and experienced Social Security Disability attorney. For guidance on submitting your claim for Social Security Disability benefits, call or email us at Nash Disability Law for a free evaluation of your specific situation.