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To be eligible for SSD benefits, you must meet certain criteria. First of all, you must have a certain number of work credits. You get, in general, one credit for each quarter that you work at a job where you pay Social Security taxes. The exact amount you need varies, but usually you need a total forty credits, twenty of which were earned in the last ten years.
You also must have a health condition that has lasted or will last for at least one year. The exception is if the condition will result in death.
You must not be engaged in “substantial gainful activity.” This basically means that you can only be earning a minimal amount of money through employment. The amount changes every year.
Finally, your condition or conditions must meet Social Security’s criteria for being disabling. The conditions, combined with your age, education, and work experience, must render it impossible for you to work in any job that exists in substantial numbers.
If you feel that your medical conditions make you unable to work, the first step is to apply for Social Security Disability benefits.