The number of work credits needed for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) eligibility varies according to your age. Generally, individuals need 40 credits, 20 of which should have been earned in the last 10 years leading up to the disability onset. Although, younger workers may even qualify if they have fewer work credits.

Work Credits For Disability

Work credits for disability are essentially earned through the Social Security Administration (SSA) based on your income. In 2023, you earn one credit for every $1,640 paycheck and four credits per year (equivalent to $6,560 in earnings). 

This system is similar to paying into Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) like insurance, where your contributions through paychecks over time determine your eligibility for disability benefits. (Get more information on what is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI))The number of work credits becomes a crucial factor in SSDI eligibility, emphasizing the importance of a consistent work history to access disability benefits when needed.

Exceptions To The Work Credits For SSDI

If you’re 24 or younger and have accumulated 1.5 years of work in the last three years, or in the 24-30 age range with three years of work in the past six, you likely meet the eligibility criteria for SSDI. 

Generally, a more extensive work history increases the likelihood of having sufficient work credits for qualification. It’s essential to note that while work history significantly influences eligibility, there are exceptions and special circumstances that warrant awareness.

  • When you are self-employed

For self-employed people, accruing work credits for SSDI requires the declaration of income and the filing of self-employment taxes. Whether engaged in construction, landscaping, hair styling, driving services like Uber or Lyft, renting on Airbnb, or any gig economy jobs, filing self-employment taxes is essential to accumulate the necessary work credits for SSDI eligibility.

  • When you are a state employee

For state employees, opting into SSA taxes may be necessary based on your location, as not all states automatically withhold these taxes. It’s crucial to check state-specific SSDI laws relating to medical condition, impairment, and age to ensure that your paychecks have social security taxes deducted.

  • In the case of non-profits

In the case of nonprofits, some may not contribute to SSA, potentially impacting your work credits. Verify whether your paychecks deduct Social Security taxes to ascertain your eligibility for SSDI.

  • In case of Date Last Insured (DLI)

Understanding the Date Last Insured (DLI) is pivotal. Eligibility for SSDI requires at least five years of work within the past 10. Calculate your DLI by adding five years to the last year you worked. For example, if your work spanned from 2008 to 2018, your DLI would be 2023, representing the last year of SSDI eligibility.

How Can You Check Your Work Credits?

To ascertain your work credits and estimate your potential SSDI payment, follow these steps on the website:

  • Visit mySocialSecurity page.
  • Log in or create an account using your Social Security number (SSN).
  • Navigate to the “Eligibility and Earnings” section.
  • Check if this section indicates that you have sufficient credits for disability benefits, signaling your eligibility to apply for SSDI.

The mySocialSecurity page provides an approximate monthly payment estimate if you choose to apply for disability at the current time. 

What Will Happen If You Do Not Have Enough Work Credits?

If you do not have enough work credits, you may not be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Work credits serve as a measure of your contribution to the Social Security system, and without the required credits, you may not qualify for SSDI benefits. 

In such cases, individuals may explore other forms of assistance or benefits for which they may be eligible, depending on their circumstances. It’s essential to understand your work credit status and explore alternative avenues for support if SSDI eligibility is not met.

Want To Know More About Work Credits For SSDI? Contact a lawyer

A Social Security disability lawyer can assist by evaluating your work history, determining the number of accumulated work credits, and clarifying your eligibility for SSDI benefits. They will interpret how disability benefit policies apply to your specific situation and provide guidance on meeting work credit requirements.