If you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, one of the major issues you will need to worry about is if you have enough work credits. If you do not have sufficient work credits, you may be disqualified from getting SSDI. But what are they, and how do you get enough of them to get SSDI benefits?
What are Work Credits?
In simple terms, “work credits” are how Social Security measures the amount of work you have engaged in over the course of a certain period. In turn, it also represents how much you have paid into Social Security through payroll taxes. This is because SSDI exists primarily to help people who have previously worked, but no longer can due to a disability.
To earn one work credit, you must earn $1,410 from wages, either from working for an employer or from self-employment. You can earn up to four per year, one for each fiscal quarter, so long as you make $5,640 in one year. You do not need to make all that money consistently; so long as you make $5,640 in a single year, you will still get all four work credits, regardless of when during the year you made the money.
Why Do I Need Them?
When the Social Security Administration (SSA) is deciding whether to give someone SSDI benefits, they make two primary determinations. The first is whether they have a disability that impairs them enough that they can no longer work. The second is an economic consideration about how much they have paid into Social Security, as measured by the number of work credits they have earned. If you do not meet both criteria, you will not be able to qualify for SSDI.
How Many Do I Need?
The number of work credits you need depends on your age.
- If you are 24 or younger, you only need six work credits, which you need to have made in the three years prior to applying for disability benefits.
- If you are between the ages of 24 and 31, you need to have work credits equal to half the time between your 21st birthday and your current age. For example, if you are 28, you would need 14 work credits, two for each of the seven years between 21 and 28.
- If you are 31 or older, you need at least 40 work credits, 20 of which must have been made in the prior ten years before you applied for disability benefits.
What if I Do Not Have Enough?
If you do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits, you will likely be denied. However, there is another program, called Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is intended to help people with disabilities who do not meet the work credit requirements for SSDI. Before you give into despair, you should consult with an attorney experienced in handling disability benefits cases, who can help you with your case and get you the support you deserve.
If you or a loved one need assistance applying for SSDI or SSI benefits, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced Social Security Disability benefits lawyer. The lawyers at Sullivan & Kehoe, LLP have over 50 years of combined experience between its attorneys and are available to you or your loved one in obtaining Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits. To schedule a consultation with our New York Social Security Disability benefits lawyers, call (631) 823-7155.