Learn how SSDI Work Credits affect your Social Security disability benefits in this simple guide. Find out if you qualify for these SSDI benefits.
Work may not be an option for you when you have a debilitating condition. In these unfortunate situations, applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be the only way to support yourself and your family in the long term.
However, the process of getting approved for disability benefits is not easy. It requires various documents and evidence on how your condition impacts your ability to work. Luckily, your claim may get approved faster than others if you qualify for SSDI work credits.
This guide explains how SSDI work credits affect your disability benefits and what steps you should take to earn them.
What Are Work Credits for Social Security?
Social Security work credits are credits earned when you work and pay Social Security taxes. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses these credits to determine your retirement or disability benefits eligibility.
SSDI work credits (or quarter of coverage) are based on your total yearly wages or self-employment income. You can earn a maximum of four work credits each year.
You need a minimum of 40 credits to qualify for retirement benefits, which take a minimum of 10 years to earn. Whereas work credits for disability benefits vary by age and benefit type.
How to Earn Work Credits for Social Security?
You earn SSDI work credits when you work and pay Social Security taxes.
Social Security uses your earnings and work history to determine eligibility for retirement, disability benefits, or survivor benefits when you die.
For example, you can earn one credit for every $1,510 in wages or self-employment income. You can obtain a maximum of four work credits a year. If you earn four credits a year, you will reach 40 credits after working for ten years.
Each year the earnings amount needed for work credits increases as average earnings levels increase. Also, the credits you earn remain on your Social Security record if you change jobs or stop working.
How Many Work Credits Do You Need for SSDI?
You must earn 40 Social Security credits to qualify for Social Security benefits.
To be eligible for disability benefits, you must also meet two earnings tests:
- Recent Work Test
- Duration Work Test
The Recent Work Test
The number of work credits required to meet the recent work test depends on your age. Below are the rules:
- Before age 24 – You may qualify if you earned six credits in the last three years before your disability began.
- Age 24 to 31 – You may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between age 21 and when you became disabled.
- Age 31 or older – You must have at least 20 credits in the last ten years before your disability began.
The Duration of Work Test
The duration of the work test looks at how much work you did throughout your life.
Generally, it is easier for younger disabled folks to pass the duration of work test. This is because the requirements get more complex for applicants age 42 years or older.
The table below shows the ages and how many years of work credits you need to qualify for SSDI under the duration of work test.
SSDI Work Credits by Age
|Age You Became Disabled||Number of Credits You Need||Number of Work Years|
|21 through 27||6||1.5|
|62 or older||40||10|
NOTE: This table is an estimate only and does not cover all situations
When Do Work Credits Expire for SSDI?
SSDI work credits expire within five years after you stop working (20 quarters).
Social Security wants wage earners to work steadily without breaks for their coverage period of Social Security Disability.
That’s why filing your SSD claim as quickly as possible is essential!
How Are SSDI Work Credits Calculated?
In 2022, you earn one credit for each $1,510 in wages or self-employment income. When you have achieved $6,040 in one year, you have reached the four credits you can make for that year. However, SSDI work credits are calculated differently from year to year.
Then, the number of work credits you need to qualify for disability benefits will depend on your age.
The Social Security Administration states you generally need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last ten years. However, there are different calculations if you are a younger applicant with fewer work credits.
What If I Do Not Have Enough Work Credits for Disability?
The SSA cannot pay you benefits if you do not have enough credits.
If you do not have enough work credits to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
The SSI program is for applicants who do not meet the required work credits and have limited income or resources.
It is always best to speak to an experienced disability attorney to help you better understand your options.
How to Check Your Work Credits for Social Security
You can check the number of work credits you have for Social Security at any time.
There are three ways to check your SSDI work credits:
- Create a My Social Security account on the SSA website to view your credits online
- You can see this information on your Social Security Statement, which is available to everyone over age 25
- Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213
NOTE: Social Security will mail Statements three months before your birthday for workers age 60 and older who do not have a My Social Security account.
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SSDI Work Credits FAQ
Frequently asked questions about Social Security work credits.
How Do I Know If I Have 40 Credits for Social Security?
If you worked ten years and earned the minimim yearly wages or self-employment income amount, you will likely have 40 credits for Social Security.
You can also view your credits online by logging into your My Social Security account on the SSA website.
Additionally, you can request a Social Security Statement to see your work credit breakdown.
How Many Work Credits Can I Earn per Year?
You can earn up to four work credits each year. Also, you can only earn one credit per quarter, regardless of other circumstances.
Can I Earn More than 4 Social Security Credits per Year?
No, you cannot earn more than 4 Social Security Credits per year even if you have multiple jobs, a high salary, or start a new career.