How many work credits are needed for disability benefits?

Whether a person put in decades of work before becoming disabled or whether they were only able to work for a for a short amount of time before becoming disabled, in order to be awarded Social Security disability benefits, a person must have a certain amount of work credits. If a person does not have enough credits, he or she will not be awarded benefits from this government program.

Each year, a person can earn up to four credits if he or she is working and therefore, through taxes, is paying into the Social Security system. A person’s employer will report the employee’s earnings one time each year. Credits are based on a person’s earnings during the course of the year. In 2016, a person needed to make $1,260 to get one credit and $5,040 to earn the total four yearly credits. Therefore, it doesn’t really matter when a person worked in order to earn credits; it just matters how much they made. Some people might need to work the full year to obtain the four credits, or some might only need to work a few months to obtain the four credits.

If a person is age 62 or older, in order to obtain SSD benefits, he or she needs 40 credits, half of which were made in the previous 10 years, ending with the year the person became disabled. However, it might be possible for younger workers who haven’t worked 10 years to obtain benefits. If a person becomes disabled before he or she is 24-years-old, he or she can seek benefits if, within 3 years of becoming disabled, he or she has earned six credits. If a person becomes disabled between the ages of 24 to 31, he or she can seek benefits if he or she has been working for at least 50 percent of the time between age 21 and the date he or she became disabled. After age 31, the number of credits varies based on when the person became disabled.

Determining how many credits one needs to qualify for disability benefits can be complicated. However, an attorney can explain the requirements needed to seek SSD benefits and can help a person throughout the application process.