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  • Christopher Le

How Work Credits determines eligibility for SSDI

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits provide individuals with financial protection if they become ill or injured, or otherwise unable to work based on a medical reason. Over your working life, you’ll make most payments into the Social Security system through their employer. Others may not work as much and not make such payments into the social security system. In these cases, there may be uncertainty as to whether you qualify for SSDI.

What Are the Work Requirements for Social Security Disability Insurance Qualification?

Generally, an individual needs to work and pay into the Social Security system in order to receive benefits from it. If you pay into the social security system, you may qualify for retirement benefits as well as disability insurance benefits if you are hurt or ill, and unable to work. However, there are specific work requirements.

For Social Security retirement benefits, there is the 40-quarter requirement. The basic requirement is having at least 40 quarters of work history and payment into the social security system. You can earn up to four work credits per year based on your earnings for that year. However, for SSDI, the it’s quite a bit different. It can be difficult for individuals to determine if they have enough work credits.

For example, if you became disabled and unable to work at a younger age, obviously you could not have had enough time to earn sufficient credits, but that doesn’t mean you don’t qualify. The current system works like this:

  • If you are between 31 and 42 years of age, you must have earned 20 work credits or quarters. You must have earned those 20 credits in the previous 10 years.

  • For those who are age 43 to 61, you must have earned one credit for each calendar year from the time that you were 21 until the year before the disability occurred. And, you must have earned 20 within the last 10 years.

  • For those who are 61 years or older, prior to retirement age, you must have earned 40 work credits with 20 of those work credits occurring in the last 10 years.

Its important to remember that just because you have enough work credits, that doesn’t mean you automatically qualify for SSDI. You must still prove you have a medical condition that prevents you from working and that you are unlikely to be able to return to work ever or for a lengthy period of time. So keep in mind you must still meet medical requirements to obtain SSDI coverage.

What If You Do Not Have Enough Work Credits?

Unfortunately, if you lack the work credits, then you may not qualify for SSDI benefits. But you may qualify for SSI in this situation. This type of coverage is only available to those who cannot work and who meet very limited asset and income requirements. This is a different type of social security disability program available to those who may have no work history, but are unable to work because of their medical condition. Its advised to consult with an experienced lawyer to find out which program you qualify for.

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