One of the many qualifications the Social Security Administration (SSA) will review when determining if an applicant is eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is the amount of work credits the applicant has.
Because SSDI is an earned benefit, applicants must have paid into the program by paying Social Security taxes while they were working. As you pay into Social Security, you earn a certain number of work credits. Applicants must have enough work credits to qualify for benefits.
Individuals are able to earn a maximum of four credits every year they work and pay into Social Security. For 2016, in order to get one work credit, an individual must earn $1,260. To get the maximum four credits, an individual must earn $5,040 for the year.
Throughout their lifetime, most individuals will likely earn more than the minimum number of credits needed for SSDI benefits eligibility. However, additional credits do not equate to a higher disability monthly payment.
The number of benefits an applicant needs depends on his or her age at the time he or she became disabled. In most cases, an applicant will need 40 work credits to be eligible for SSDI. Twenty of those credits have to have been earned within the ten years before an applicant became disabled, according to the SSA.
It may be possible for younger applicants to gain benefits with less credits:
- Younger than 24 – Applicants could qualify if they have six credits that were earned in the three years prior to the start of their disability.
- Between ages 24 and 31 – Applicants might qualify for benefits if they have enough credits for working 50 percent of the time between 21 years of age and when they became disabled.
- 31 years of age or older – Applicants must have earned a minimum of twenty credits. For each additional year, the applicant must earn an additional credit as outlined in the SSA's chart.
Family members of a deceased disabled individual will be eligible for survivors' benefits depending on the age of the individual when he or she died, similar to traditional benefits.
The Phoenix Social Security disability advocates at Dayes Law Firm PC can help you determine how many work credits you have and if you have enough to qualify for SSDI benefits. We will also guide you through the entire application process. Contact us to find to schedule a free consultation.