Your work history is a primary factor in eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Throughout your years of employment, you earn Social Security Administration (SSA) work credits. When you become disabled, you need a certain amount of work credits to qualify for SSDI.

How do you Accumulate Social Security Work Credits?

Working at a job in which you pay Social Security taxes is what qualifies you for Social Security benefits. Essentially, when you pay those taxes, you pay a premium for Social Security insurance benefits you might need in the future.

The amount of your earnings factors into your eligibility when you apply for SSDI. You earn one credit for every $1,220 you earn, up to a maximum of four credits a year. The work credits accumulate on your Social Security record and stay there permanently, even if you change jobs or are unemployed for a period of time. (Note, this figure is for 2015. Amounts may change slightly each year.)

How many work credits do I need to qualify for Social Security disability benefits?

The amount of credits you need for SSDI depend upon the age when you become disabled.

  • Younger than 24 — If you were younger than age 24 when you became disabled, you need to have six credits (1.5 years of work) to qualify. The credits must have been earned during the three years before you became disabled.
  • Ages 24 to 30 — If you became disabled between the ages of 24 and 30, you need to have credits for at least half of the time since you turned 21. For example, if you became disabled at age 27, you will need credits for at least three of the six years since you turned 21, or 12 credits.
  • Age 31+ — If you are age 31 or older when you become disabled, the number of credits varies, depending upon your age. Generally, you need at least 20 credits in the past 10 years prior to becoming disabled to qualify.

If you do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI, you can apply for Social Security Income (SSI) benefits, a need-based program that is not dependent upon work history.

Call Our Firm to Learn More about your eligibility

For more information about your Social Security work history and how to apply for Social Security benefits, call Patton Brown Law at 855-860-2150 to speak with an experienced disability attorney at no cost or obligation to you. We can assist you with all aspects of your Social Security disability benefits claim and answer any questions you may have.