What Are Work Credits and How Do I Earn Them for SSDI?

What Are Work Credits and How Do I Earn Them for SSDI?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two programs to help provide income for people with disabilities: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The SSA provides SSDI to applicants who have a disabling condition, rendering them unable to work, as long as those applicants have sufficient work credits. If someone is ineligible for SSDI, they may still qualify for SSI, a type of disability income available to blind or disabled persons who meet income and resource criteria.

Understanding work credits is essential to determining SSDI eligibility, leaving many applicants to wonder how they can earn them. As their name suggests, work credits are considered credit for gainful employment. People can earn them by working for an employer or through self-employment.

Work Credits Are Income-Based, Not Hour-Based

Many people believe that work credits are based on hours worked. That is not true. Work credits depend on the amount of income a person earns each quarter. A person can earn a maximum of one work credit each quarter and a total of four credits each year.

The SSA sometimes changes the amount a person must make per quarter to earn a work credit. However, it does not require full-time employment, even at minimum wage. Currently, it requires someone making minimum wage less than 200 hours (five weeks of full-time employment) per quarter to qualify for a credit. So, part-time employees or even seasonal employees can make enough to earn work credits.

Additionally, it does not matter how quickly someone earns that money. However, since people can only earn a maximum of one credit, they must have some ongoing employment to earn multiple credits. An attorney could further explain the current financial requirements for a work credit.

Number of Work Credits to Qualify Based on Age and Disability

Even though work credits depend on income, not hours worked, the SSA recognizes that older workers have had more opportunities to earn work credits than younger workers. Workers 62 and older must have 40 work credits to earn SSDI and must have earned 20 of them within 10 years of becoming disabled. Twenty credits translate to five years of gainful employment within the last 10 years. Forty credits translates to 10 years of gainful employment.

The first age cutoff is 24. Workers under age 24 must earn six work credits within three years before the date of disability. That translates to working six quarters, or a year-and-a-half, within three years.

The second group is age 24 to 31. People must have worked half of the time between turning 21 and the date of a disability to have enough work credits. For example, if someone’s disability date occurs when they are 24 and six months old, then there would be 14 possible work credits, and would need 7 work credits to qualify. This can put some people at a disadvantage if they choose to pursue graduate education or take time off of work to raise children.

For people ages 31 to 42, the total is 20 work credits, and from 42 to 62, the number of credits increases with age. To determine if a person has enough work credits to qualify for SSDI, a potential applicant can review his or her Social Security Statement. The statement discusses disability benefits and will provide information about whether an applicant has enough credits to qualify.

Call Us to Further Understand Work Credits and How You Earn Them for SSDI

Since work credits are the cornerstone of SSDI eligibility, determining whether you have enough work credits is the first step in the disability application process. Remember, work credits depend on whether you meet an earnings threshold each quarter but the amount of your disability payments relate to your earning capacity.

Applying for SSDI can be complicated but our skilled attorneys are available to simplify it for you. Call us for a free consultation on whether your work credits qualify you for Social Security Disability.

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Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law

Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law