How Long Do I Have to Work to Qualify for SSD?

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How Long Do I Have to Work to Qualify for SSD?

When most people think of qualifying for Social Security Disability (SSD), they think about proving that their medical condition is severe enough that they are unable to earn a living. That is a necessary part of the process. But, there are technical criteria that must be met before the Social Security Administration (SSA) even looks at your medical condition.

To qualify for SSD, a disabled worker must have sufficient work credits. For disability benefits, these credits are measured in two ways. The applicant must have a certain number of total work credits and a certain number of recent work credits. The number of each type of credit required varies depending on the applicant’s age.

What are Work Credits?

When you work and pay into Social Security, you collect work credits. The maximum number of credits you can earn in a year is four, regardless of how much money you make during that year. The amount of earnings it takes to constitute a credit changes over time. In 2023, you must earn $1,640 to earn one credit. 

Earning credits for the year tops out at $6,560/year, so most people who work full-time–or even steady part-time jobs–will accrue four credits in a year. If you earn less, you’ll get fewer credits.

How Many Work Credits Are Required for SSD? 

For most disabled workers, the minimum number of total work credits accrued to qualify for SSD benefits is 40. That’s the equivalent of 10 years of work. It’s also the same number of work credits required for Social Security retirement benefits. However, disability qualification has another element. Unless you are legally blind, you must also have a certain number of recent work credits. For most applicants, that number is 20 (the equivalent of five years of work) within the 10 years prior to applying.

Credit Requirements are Lower for Younger Workers

A worker who becomes disabled Earlier in adulthood hasn’t had as much time to receive work credits. So the number of work credits required is adjusted based on the applicant’s age. For instance, if the disabled worker is under the age of 24, they need just six work credits (1.5 years) of work in the prior three years. 

If your social security record indicates that you do not have enough work credits, review the record carefully. If there are jobs missing from your record or incorrect time periods, you can correct your record. 

Talk to an Experienced SSD Benefits Advocate

The rather complicated formula for work credits above is just one element of qualifying for Social Security disability benefits. Proving that your condition meets or equals a condition listed in the Blue Book, or that you are unable to work, can be much more complicated. Most Social Security disability initial applications are denied. To give yourselves the best chance of approval, work with a qualified disability benefits advocate who knows what the SSA is looking for. 

To learn more about how we can help, call (800) 800-2009 right now or contact us here.

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