Compassionate Guidance For
Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability

How long do you need to work to claim Social Security Disability?

Social Security -- Disability

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits help protect people who work for a living from financial hardship due to medical issues. Someone who has worked for long enough can potentially apply for benefits if they develop a medical that leaves them unable to work.

Not only will applicants need to prove that their medical concerns meet the strict standards for total disability established by the Social Security Administration (SSA), they need to have enough credit accumulated through prior work. Understanding this system can help you explore whether you potentially qualify for SSDI benefits or not.

How do you accumulate work credits?

Credits are a reflection of your employment history and income. You need to both earn a reasonable amount of money and continue earning money year after year. Workers typically need to meet a minimum threshold of credits overall and also have a certain number of credits from the last ten years of their work history.

The SSA will add one credit to your record for each $1,510 you earn. A worker can acquire up to four credits each year. Any income after earning those first four credits will still be subject to Social Security withholdings but will not add credits to your record.

Your age determines the number of credits you must have

The younger you are when you acquire a debilitating medical condition, the fewer Social Security credits you need to qualify for SSDI. Applicants under the age of 31 typically need to show that they have worked for roughly half of their adult life leading up to their injury.

Applicants over the age of 31 will need at least 20 work credits, and the number of credits needed increases every two years starting at age 42. The required number of credits increases until a worker reaches the age of 62, at which point they will need 40 credits representing 10 years of work.

How do you determine how many credits do you have?

The SSA does send out reports to workers as they reach certain milestones regarding their credits. Potential applicants can also use the website for the SSA to check their credits.

Verifying if you have enough credits to qualify for SSDI benefits can help you decide whether applying is worth the effort.