Work Credits and Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits

earning enough work credits for disability benefitsAside from meeting the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of a disability, you need to have worked long enough to have earned enough work credits to qualify for disability benefits. The number of work credits required varies by age. You must also have a certain amount of credits earned in the years before you became disabled.

For help with your disability claim, set up a free case review with one of our reputable Social Security Disability lawyers in Oshkosh today. We are ready to help determine if you have earned enough work credits and discuss your options if you do not have enough credits for Social Security Disability.

What is a Work Credit?

Work credits are credits earned throughout your work history. Every year that you earn wages and pay Social Security taxes, you are receiving work credits. These work credits are required in order to obtain Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, retirement benefits and Medicare benefits.

How Are Work Credits Earned?

You can earn up to four work credits every year. The amount of work credits earned will depend on your employment activity and earnings. The minimum income needed to earn work credits typically changes on an annual basis, based on national wage trends. In 2021, you can earn one work credit for every $1,470 in wages or self-employment income. This is an increase of $60 from $1,410 in 2020.

This means that once you have earned $5,880, you have earned your four credits for the year and cannot earn any more credits until next year.

It is important to note that the number of credits only impacts your eligibility for disability and not the amount of benefits you receive. Your average earnings over the years you work will determine the amount of your monthly benefits. 

Work Credits Needed for SSDI Benefits

The number of work credits needed to qualify for disability benefits will depend on your age. Generally, you need to have earned at total of 20 work credits within the last 10 years prior to becoming disabled. However, there are age exceptions to this rule. Younger workers may be able to qualify with less credits.

If you are disabled at age 31 or older, you must have at least 20 work credits within the last 10 years immediately prior to becoming disabled. The number of credits needed will increase by one each year until aged 62 or older, maxing out at 40 work credits required for retirement benefits.

If you are between the ages of 24 and 31, you may qualify if you earned work credits at least half the time between age 21 and the time you became disabled. For instance, if you become disabled at age 27, you will need three years of work, equivalent to 12 work credits, within the past six years to qualify.

If you are under 24, you need to have earned at least six work credits in the three years before you became disabled.

In addition to earning work credits, you must also pass two different earnings tests to qualify for disability benefits – a recent work test and a duration of work test.

What If I Do Not Have Enough Work Credits?

If you do not have the proper work history, you will not be able to qualify for SSDI benefits. However, you may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits if you meet the financial limits of the program. There is no work requirement for this program.

Reach Out to Our Legal Team Today

Sigman Janssen is here to help you obtain the disability benefits you need. We know how intimidating the application process can be, which is why we are prepared to guide you every step of the way to ensure that you have the necessary documentation to strengthen your application.

Our legal team is also prepared to advise you of the initial steps to appeal a denied disability claim during your free consultation. You are under no obligation after this meeting to hire us and we charge nothing up front if you decide to work with our firm. We only get paid if we help you obtain benefits.

Gives us a call at (877) 888-5201