Understanding “Work History” For Social Security Disability Benefits

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) there are two criteria that you need to meet. First, you need to meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disabled. Secondly, you must have worked long enough and recently enough to qualify for SSDI benefits.

Social Security uses a “work credit” system to determine how much past work you need to qualify for SSDI. Work credits are based on your total yearly income from employment where Social Security taxes were paid. You can earn up to four credits each year. The amount of money you need to earn for a work credit changes every year. In 2009, you earn one credit for each $1090 of wages or self-employment income. When you’ve earned $4,360, you’ve earned your four credits for the year.

The number of work credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. The older you are the more credits you need.

According to the Social Security Administration, these are the rules regarding work credits:

  • Before age 24 –You may qualify if you have 6 credits earned in the 3-year period ending when your disability starts.
  • Age 24 to 31 –You may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between age 21 and the time you become disabled. For example, 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).
  • Age 31 or older –In general, you need to have the number of work credits shown in the chart below. Unless you are blind, you must have earned at least 20 of the credits in the 10 years immediately before you became disabled.
Born after 1929, Became Disabled At Age:Number of Credits You Need:
31 through 4220
4422
4624
4826
5028
5230
5432
5634
5836
6038
62 or older40

Your annual Social Security Statement will show whether you have earned enough work credits to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. If you do not have your annual statement, you can request a statement from the Social Security Administration at any time. If you don’t have enough work credit to qualify for SSDI, you may still be able to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

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For experienced legal representation and an aggressive pursuit of your SSDI or SSI claims, contact Jorgensen Law with offices in San Diego, Los Angeles or Riverside, California. For assistance, schedule a free consultation at our office by calling 1-888-855-2948.

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