Social Disability Lawyer Blog

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How many work credits do I need to qualify for SSDI?


The Social Security Disability Insurance, SSDI program is one of the most inclusive federal benefits program that includes people of all categories as opposed to the Medicare and Supplemental Security Income, SSI, that only consider people of low income wage.

To qualify for social security disability benefits you need to have worked in jobs listed in the social security occupational eligibility lists. In addition to that, you must complete the minimum 40 work credits required for social security disability eligibility.

What are work credits?

The work credits translate to an equivalent of an amount from your wage each year. That being said, you would need to earn $1360 to earn one credit. However, you can only earn up to 4 work credits each year, no matter how much you earn over that amount in a year. For instance, as one work credit translates to $1360 as of 2019, then you must earn up to $5440 to earn a total of 4 credits that year.

Although you need a total of 40 work credits to qualify for social security disability, the amount equivalent to one work credit varies each year. Also called 'quarter of coverage', you can only earn up to 4 quarters of coverage in one year. Also, the last 20 quarters of coverage need to have been earned within the last 10 years of your disability. Any extra credits you earn within your lifetime will not increase your benefits.

Can less work credits qualify for social security?

A person who does not have 40 work credits as stated above may not be eligible to get their social security claims. However, these rules may have some exceptions for younger disables, survivors, widow(ers), or a person who does not have eligibility for their retirement benefit claims. The exceptions are as below:

  • Disability claims before age 24 - You may be eligible if you have 6 credits earned in the 3-year period ending when your disability starts.
  • Disability claims between age 24 to 31 - You may be eligible if you have credit for working half the time between age 21 and the time you become disabled. For instance, if you become disabled at age 27, you would need credit for 3 years of work (12 credits) out of the past 6 years (between ages 21 and 27).
  • Disability claims for age 31 or older – For people aged 31 or above, the number of work credits vary for each age for people born after the year 1929. For instance, a person aged between 31 to 42 would only need 20 work credits. Similarly, a person aged 43 will need an additional work credit to qualify for social security, i.e., 21 work credits. The number of work credits required for each age group after age 42 would be increased with an additional work credit until the maximum requirement reached for people aged 62 years or older, i.e., the total 40 work credits.

Talk to an attorney

As the amount equivalent to one work credit varies each year, the requirements for a full social security eligibility also vary from person to person. To maximize your chances of acceptance of disability claims you should consider talking to a social security attorney. We would love to provide you legal guidance to maximize your chances of winning.

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Friday, 01 December 2023