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What work history is necessary for SSDI benefits?

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2024 | Social Security Disability

Not everyone with a disabling medical condition qualifies for disability benefits. Every disability program has its own rules, leaving people confused about what benefits they may be able to obtain. Not everyone has private disability insurance, but many employed people can qualify for federal disability benefits.

Working professionals make contributions to Social Security with every paycheck they earn. They may then seek benefits from different Social Security programs. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can help those who can no longer work because of a serious medical challenge. Those with terminal cancer, acquired catastrophic injuries and other debilitating medical conditions may qualify.

Applicants generally need enough evidence to convince the Social Security Administration (SSA) that they cannot work because of their health. They also need to have a substantial work history to qualify for SSDI benefits.

How long must someone work to qualify?

The SSA technically has a sliding scale when evaluating the work history of an individual applicant. Every year, employed people can earn up to four Social Security credits. The SSA awards workers one credit for every $1,730 earned.

Most people applying for SSDI benefits need to have at least 40 credits on record. The SSA also expects a recent work history. Usually, people need to have earned 20 credits within the last 10 years to qualify. Even those working low-paying and part-time jobs can potentially accrue four credits annually.

Of course, younger workers do not always start their careers in earnest in their teens or early 20s. Therefore, there are different rules for credits for those under the age of 31. Those between the ages of 24 and 31 simply need enough credits to show they have worked half of the time since turning 21. Workers under the age of 24 could qualify for benefits with just six credits.

Most workers who have maintained full-time jobs in recent years do not have to worry about whether their work history is sufficient for them to qualify. Instead, their paperwork and medical records should be what they focus on to improve their chances of getting benefits.

Learning more about the rules for SSDI benefits can help those unable to work because of medical challenges. Those who understand whether or not they may be eligible may see the value in filing a benefits claim.