To receive a period of disability, you must meet three requirements:
- A disability requirement, and;
- an earnings requirement, and;
- a waiting period requirement for early Medicare.
A. Disability Requirement Defined
To meet this requirement, you must either:
- have a "permanent medical condition" (see definition) that prevents you from performing any "substantial gainful work" (see definition), or
- be at least age 55 and unable, due to "blindness" (see definition), to perform the substantial gainful work you used to do with some regularity over a period of time.
B. Earnings Requirement Defined
To meet this requirement, you must meet one of the following conditions:
- If your disability began at age 31 or later and there was no prior period of disability before age 31, you must meet two provisions:
- You must have earned social security or railroad retirement work credits for each year after the later of either 1950, or age 21 up to the year disability began, and
- you must also have earned credit for 20 calendar quarters of social security or railroad retirement work during a 40-quarter period ending in or after the quarter in which disability began.
Exception: If you are under age 62 and have less than 120 months of service but at least 60 months of service that were earned after 1995, you must have earned credit for 20 calendar quarters of coverage of social security or railroad work in the 10 years immediately preceding the onset of disability.
C. Waiting Period Requirement for Early Medicare Defined
To meet this requirement, you must be permanently disabled for at least 5 full calendar months after the date you meet both the disability and earnings requirement before a period of disability may be awarded. Therefore, the waiting period always starts on the first day of the 6th month following the month you are rated disabled.
A waiting period is not required if a previous period of disability ended within 5 years of the month the current freeze began.
In addition, if you are applying for a period of disability after the disabling condition has ended, the freeze may be awarded only if the application was filed before the earliest of:
- 12 months after the month age 65 is attained, or
- 14 months after the month disability has ended.