In order to earn credits (also called Quarters of Coverage) for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, you must satisfy the Earnings Requirement. Each year, you may earn up to four credits. The actual dollar amount which is needed to earn a quarter of coverage for Social Security Disability Insurance changes from year to year. As of 2016, the earnings requirement for a quarter of credit is $1,130. Once you have earned $4,520 you have earned all four credits available to you in 2016.
You can fulfill the requirements for all four credits available to you in a single month if your income is high enough. For every time you fulfill the earnings requirement, you will earn one credit for Social Security Disability Insurance, up to four credits per year. Any income you earn above the earnings requirement for four credits will not count towards your Social Security Disability Insurance.
In order to actually qualify for disability, you must have earned at least one SSDI work credit for every year since you turned 21 years old. Additionally, you must have at least 6 credits to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.
For SSI recipients, the earnings requirement is completely different. Because your eligibility for SSI is determined by your financial need, you don’t need to earn quarters of coverage to be eligible. In fact, the less you earn, the more likely you are to qualify for SSI. If you earn more than the allowable amount (which is adjusted periodically), you are disqualified for SSI.
The earnings requirement for both Social Security Disability Insurance and SSI are available through the Social Security Information. A Social Security Disability lawyer would also have all of the current earnings requirement information, in addition to being able to help you with your Social Security Disability claim.