If you are no longer able to work because of a medical condition, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is a program that requires claimants to have worked and earned adequate credits, so they are covered by the program.
Usually, you must have earned 40 credits for work. You must have earned 20 of those credits in the last 10 years ending in the year that you became disabled to work. Basically, that is the equivalent of having worked five years full-time out of the last 10 years. If you are a younger claimant, you may qualify for SSDI benefits with fewer work credits.
How Work Credits Are Calculated
The amount you need to have worked to earn a credit can vary from one year to another. Work credits are based on your yearly earnings or income earned from self-employment. You can earn a maximum of 4 credits per year. As of 2019, you earn one credit for every $1,360 of wages or self-employment income reported. After you have earned $5,440, you have earned your maximum four credits for the year.
The actual number of work credits that you need to qualify for SSDI is dependent on the age at which you become disabled and can no longer work. Regardless of your age, you must have earned the required number of credits within a certain period ending with the time at which you actually become disabled. If you qualify now but quit working, you may not qualify later.
Meeting the Disability Criteria
The SSA views disabled as total disability. They do not offer benefits for short-term disability or for partial disability. Instead, you must be completely disabled and be expected to be unable to work for at least a year or have a condition that is expected to result in your death. Your condition must meet specific medical criteria in order for your claim to be approved.
If you are unable to work because of a medical condition, call the SSA to speak with a representative. They will be able to tell you if you have earned enough credits to qualify for SSDI benefits. They will consider your age and review your work history to see if you would meet the work requirements. If you don’t meet the work requirements and can display a financial need and meet specific financial criteria, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Applying For Disability Benefits
If you are ready to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, you can start the application online at ssa.gov or call 1-800-772-1213. You can check your statement annually to see if you have earned enough credits by visiting the website and setting up a My Social Security account. Taxpayers can get an annual statement, which will tell you how much you would receive in monthly benefits should you become disabled and how much you would receive in retirement benefits.