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The term social security is usually thought of something that applies for retirement benefits only. This notion or association is actually incorrect. While retirement benefits certainly play a large role, the social security administration also provides other programs including disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. Whether you are trying to collect retirement benefits, early retirement benefits, disability insurance benefits, or supplemental security income benefits, you will need to qualify under some strict rules and stipulations in order to receive payment.
These are the requirements that must be met for you to even be considered before looking at your medical records or special requirements. It's basically the first hurdle you must jump.
The full retirement age is currently 66, but it is possible to qualify for early retirement benefits. Unfortunately, opting for early application can drastically reduce your social security benefits. Most people assume your benefits will be reduced until the full retirement age and then it goes back to non-reduced payments. This just isn't the case. The SSA makes you suffer a 20% decrease when receiving your payment and this reduction will stay in place for the rest of your life. A 20% reduction may not seem drastic, but depending on how long you live can it can potentially cost you a large sum of money.
To qualify for disability insurance benefits, one is required to have been paying into the system. In fact, to be considered you must have been paying at least 6 months every year for the past ten years. Paying into the system for this length of time is the only requirement and every other qualifying factor will be ignored. Your personal wealth is of no consequence when applying for this award. SSI or supplemental security income has an additional financial requirement. One must have less than $2000 in non-exempt assets and no other significant earning or income. This can be tricky unless you also study accounting. Non-exempt assets include what is considered "the basics" which include your home, transportation (car), clothing, and household items (furniture).
Ok, now that you've met the non-disability requirements, it's on to the actual requirements. There is no possible way for me to cover this exhaustive list, so I will provide a brief overview. Essentially, certain injuries and/or illnesses can quality right away if it can be shown the fit the description under the listing of impairments. These certain types of impairments have been deemed detrimental enough that they deserve qualification without an in-depth record into medical histories and expert testimonies. If you fail to meet anything listed under the listing of impairments, the SSA will take a closer look at your "file" and perform an investigation into your past and present.
Even though both DIB and SSI programs are never easy to qualify for, your age can play an important role. It can either help or hurt you depending how old or young you are. It is much easier to get approved at the age of 50 and gets easier yet as you approve the full retirement age of 66.