How Do I Check My Social Security Disability Work Credits?

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How Do I Check My Social Security Disability Work Credits? The Social Security Administration keeps track of your earnings and work credits.  They do this by using your Social Security number.  Social Security provides this information on your Social Security Earnings Statement.  It is available to everyone age 25 and over.  Social Security mails out your statement periodically.  You can also look at your statement online.  You would need to create an online account with Social Security.  Occasionally checking your estimated Social Security benefits lets you to check for any mistakes on your record.

What are Social Security Disability Work Credits?

Work credits are credits that you earned during your work history.  You receive work credits each year that you work and pay taxes.  Unfortunately, Social Security can’t pay you benefits if you don’t have enough work credits.  These credits are required to receive Social Security disability benefits (SSDI), retirement benefits and Medicare.   However, you do not need work credits to file for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  To file for SSI, you need to meet certain income requirements. 

How do I earn Social Security disability work credits?

Work credits are based on your total wages and self-employment income for the year.  At most, you can earn four work credits per year.  The amount of earnings it takes to earn a credit can change from year to year.  In 2020, you must earn $5,640 to get four credits for the year.  How Can I Check My Social Security Disability Credits?

How many work credits do I need for Social Security Disability benefits?

Generally, you need to earn a total of 20 work credits to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.  Typically, Social Security will look back ten years from the date you filed your disability application.  You must have worked at least five of those years to qualify.  However, there are some age exceptions.  If you are younger, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits with fewer credits.  For example:

  • Before age 24 – you need to earn 6 credits or have worked 1.5 years
  • Ages 24-30 – you need to earn 8-18 credits or have worked 2-4.5 years
  • Ages 31 or older – you need at least 20 credits in the 10 year period before you became disabled

Do my Social Security disability work credits expire?

Additionally, in order to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, you must meet a recent work test.  After you stop working, you do not have an indefinite time to file for disability benefits.  Like other insurance program, your coverage ends after a certain amount of time from when you stop working.  How Can I Check My Social Security Disability Credits?

How Does My Date Last Insured Impact My Disability Work Credits

Your date last insured (DLI) is the last date you can qualify for Social Security disability benefits.  Your DLI depends on when you last worked.  Usually, your DLI lasts five years after you stop working.  However, if your earnings were low or your work was inconsistent, your DLI may be less than five years. 

Example 1: Date last insured

Bob stopped working in December 2014.  He had worked for seven years as an auto mechanic.  While he was out of work, Bob fell and injured his neck and shoulder in February 2019.  He no longer could work.  Bob’s date last insured expires in December 2019.  Since Bob’s DLI expires after he became unable to work, he can still qualify for Social Security disability benefits.  How Can I Check My Social Security Disability Credits?

Example 2:  Date last insured

Gina stopped working in June 2018 after she needed knee surgery.  She had worked for over 10 years as a home health aide.  She was unable to return to work after her surgery.  Gina’s date last insured would not expire until around June 2023.  Therefore, she is currently eligible to file for Social Security disability benefits. 

What if my DLI has expired?

You can still file for Social Security disability benefits if you stopped working more than five years ago.  However, you would need to show that you became disabled before your DLI expired.  You must have medical evidence that shows you couldn’t work before your DLI.  Sometimes, this can be very difficult.  Older medical records might not be available.  You may not remember all of the doctors that treated you.  How Can I Check My Social Security Disability Credits?

Work with an experienced disability advocate to make sure your Social Security disability work credits are correct

An experienced disability advocate can really help in these situations.  Your disability advocate can help you understand these complicated issues.  They can help you gather the medical evidence you need to win your case.  Frequently, if your DLI has expired, you may need to go to a Social Security disability hearing to decide your case.  Your disability advocate gets your ready for your hearing.  They also make sure the judge has everything they need to decide your case.  How Do I Check My Social Security Disability Work Credits?

Disability Help Group:  Winning Case Study

George stopped working in 2013 because he had a car accident.  Unfortunately, he was unable to go back to work.  He suffered from chronic back pain.  George didn’t know he could file for Social Security disability benefits when he stopped working.  He contacted Disability Help Group for assistance in 2019.  At that time, his date last insured had expired in December 2018.  George had to go to a disability hearing.  We were able to help George provide all of his medical records to the judge since his accident.  Therefore, George was able to show that his medical conditions kept him from working before his DLI.  He was approved for benefits.  

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