How Long Do I Have to Work Before I Qualify For SSDI Benefits?


Posted by: Chris

Being disabled does not automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will only approve applicants who are not only disabled, but also have enough work credits. There’s only one way to earn work credits: by working. But, how long do you have to work before you qualify for SSDI benefits?

How to Earn Work Credits

People who are working and paying Social Security taxes can earn up to four work credits per year. Credits are earned based on your income. As of 2017, the SSA awards one work credit for every $1,300 in income. This means you must earn a minimum of $5,200 in order to earn the maximum number of four credits per year.

How Many Work Credits Are Needed For SSDI Benefits?

The number of work credits you will need to qualify for SSDI benefits varies depending on your age. People who become disabled while they are under the age of 24 only need to have earned six work credits to qualify. However, these six credits must have been earned during a three-year period prior to becoming disabled.

The rules are different for people who become disabled between the ages of 24 and 31. People in this age group can qualify if they have credits for working at least half of the time between the age of 21 and the age at which they became disabled. For example, let’s say you became disabled when you were 29 years old. In this case, you would need to have earned credits for at least 4 years of work out of the 8 years between ages 21 and 29.

People who are between the ages of 31 and 42 need a minimum of 20 work credits to qualify. After age 42, the number of credits needed increases by one for every year. For example, someone who is disabled at age 43 needs 21 work credits, someone who is disabled at age 44 needs 22 work credits, and so on until age 62. People who are aged 62 or over need 40 work credits to qualify.

There’s another rule regarding work credits that applies to everyone who becomes disabled at age 31 or older. These individuals must have earned a minimum of 20 credits within the 10 years prior to becoming disabled. For instance, someone who is 43 years old needs 21 work credits total to qualify. Twenty of these credits must have been earned within the last 10 years, whereas the remaining credit could have been earned at any time.

Are you unable to work because of a disability? If so, let our experienced attorneys guide you through the process of applying for disability benefits. Please call Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. today at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.