Social Security Disability and Work Credits
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you must meet the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) definition of being disabled and have worked and paid Social Security taxes. The SSA uses a work credit system to determine how much work you did in the past and whether or not you qualify for benefits. The work credits you earn are based on the amount of your wages and self-employment income during the year, regardless of when you did the work. As of 2011, you receive one credit per $1,120 of earnings and are eligible to receive up to four credits per year. The amount one needs to earn to receive credits increases slightly each year in accordance with average earnings levels. Even if you change jobs or become unemployed, the credits stay on your Social Security record. The Amount of Credits You Need for Disability Benefits The number of work credits you need to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits depends on the age you become disabled. Typically, claimants need around 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the 10 year period ending when their disability started. Younger workers don't need as many credits. Claimants under the age of 24 may qualify for benefits if they have six credits that were earned in the three year period ending when their disability started. Claimants between the ages of 24 and 31 may qualify for benefits if they have credit for working half of the time between the age of 21 and the time they became disabled. Claimants who are at the age of 31 or older must have earned at least 20 of their credits in the 10 years immediately prior to becoming disabled. What to Do If You Don't Have Enough Work Credits If you don't have enough work credits and you have limited income and resources, you may be eligible for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which is need-based. For the majority, the medical requirements for disability payments under the SSI program are the same as they are under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. Schedule a Free Evaluation If you aren't sure whether you have enough work credits to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits or you'd like help with your application, please call 800.883.7043 or fill out our online contact form to set up a free evaluation.