Most applicants for disability benefits understand that they must be totally disabled for a period of 12 months or more to receive disability insurance payments from the Social Security Administration. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the necessity of accumulating a sufficient number of what the SSA calls “work credits” before they are eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. In this blog, we will explain this requirement.
Work credits depend upon the length of time a person works and upon earning a specified minimum amount of money. Before 1978, credits were tabulated on a quarterly basis, and a person received one credit for every quarter in which he or she earned at least $50. In 1979, the system changed to an annual accounting regardless of when the work was performed during the year. In 2016, a person is required to earn $1,160 to obtain one credit. A total of $5,040 in one year is required to earn the maximum of four credits.
The number of credits needed to become eligible for disability benefits depends upon a person’s age. Those younger than 24 must have earned six credits in the three-year period before the onset of disability. Applicants who are 24 to 31 are required to earn half of the maximum number of available credits during the previous six years. Those older than 31 must earn a number of credits that depends upon their age when they became disabled. Applicants aged 31 to 42 must earn 20 credits, and those who are 62 or older must accumulate 40 credits before they become disabled. The minimum number of credits for applicants between 42 and 62 is prorated based upon age.
Anyone contemplating filing a claim for SSD benefits may find it helpful to consult a lawyer who specializes in handling disability claims. A consultation with an experienced lawyer can provide an explanation of the benefits process, assistance with filing the claim, and advice and representation if an appeal is necessary.
Source: Social Security Administration, “Benefits Planner – Social Security Credits,” accessed on June 11, 2016