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Do I Qualify for SSDI? Understanding How Work Credits Work After Your Disability

Qualifying for SSDI Due to Disability: Social Security Disability Lawyer in NYC Explains Work Credits

When an individual is no longer able to work due to a disability, there are two programs that provide some financial relief. The first is Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a benefits program that provides minimum basic financial assistance to seniors or individuals with disabilities who have very limited resources and income. The second program is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which provides increased financial assistance to those who are disabled and have a qualifying work history. The key difference between the two programs for someone who is disabled is having enough work credits to qualify for SSDI. Some individuals may qualify for both programs, especially with the help of an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer in NYC.

This is because nearly one in four (25%) of workers born after 2000 are statistically likely to suffer a disability before retirement, adding to the already 61 million adults in the United States with a disability. What is most important about these figures is that 86% of SSI recipients received payments due to disability or blindness, meaning that many individuals would likely qualify for SSDI if they had a qualifying work history.

However, many do not realize that they may qualify for SSDI or fail to provide the appropriate evidence to demonstrate entitlement to SSDI—especially individuals who are self-employed or work for a family business. If you or a loved one are disabled and believe you may qualify for Social Security, call our experienced Social Security Disability lawyers in NYC at O’Connor Law to learn how to obtain the benefits you need to pay for bills, afford food, and cover other costs for you and your family during a FREE consultation.

What is a Work History and How Do Work Credits Work?

In addition to having a qualified disability, in order to be eligible for SSDI you need to have a qualifying work history. A person’s work history is measured by work credits. In order to be entitled to SSDI, you need to have a total of 40 work credits. Of those 40 work credits, 20 work credits must have been earned within the last 10 years before you became disabled.

Work credits are earned per amount of wages you receive in a year. This amount adjusts each year, and in 2022 it is one credit per $1,510 in wages or self-employment income earned. However, you can only earn four credits per year, meaning in 2022 you have hit your maximum amount after $6,040 in wages.

This means you generally need to work a minimum of 10 years to accumulate the 40 credits needed to be eligible for SSDI.

Exceptions to Work Credits

There are some exceptions to the number of work credits that you may need. These exceptions are mostly age-related, usually for younger workers. The exceptions to age include the following:

  • Younger than 24 years old – may qualify with 6 credits earned in the last 3 years before the disability starts.
  • Age 24 to 31 – may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between age 21 and when the disability starts. For example, an individual who is 29 when a disability occurs will need 4 years of work (16 credits) out of the last 8 years (between age 21 to 29).
  • Age 31 or older – must have at least 20 credits in the 10-year period immediately before the disability begins.

There are some other calculations that may be relevant for SSDI and work credits, which should be evaluated by an experienced SSDI law firm.

Why Do You Want to Fight for SSDI?

Most individuals who suffer a disability will be able to obtain SSI with the proper proof if they meet the other areas of eligibility. Some may believe this is satisfactory enough. However, it is important to fight for SSDI if you may qualify because you have been “paying into” it through your wages. Thus, you may be losing out on a large amount of money you have already contributed to the benefits program.

The difference between SSI and SSDI maximum payments is significant. The maximum monthly amount in 2021 for SSI is $794 a month, or $1,191 for a married couple. Whereas the maximum SSDI income for 2021, depending on prior income, is $3,148 a month. The rates are adjusted each year, and in 2022 the maximum SSI is $841 a month, whereas SSDI is $3,345 a month.

As you can see, SSDI pays significantly more than SSI—and is worth fighting for with an experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer in NYC on your side.

Are You Applying for SSDI? Asked for More Information or Evidence? Or Denied SSDI? Call Our Social Security Disability Lawyer in NYC For Help

Obtaining the maximum Social Security benefits that you may be entitled to is important to protect your financial wellbeing and to continue to provide for your family after a disability. There are two important benefits programs with large differences in monthly amounts that a disabled individual may be entitled to.

If you or a loved one need help applying, handling questions from the Social Security Administration, or need help with an appeal, contact our experienced Social Security Disability lawyer in NYC at O’Connor Law to schedule a FREE consultation to learn more about how we can help you recover the maximum SSDI benefits you may be entitled to based on your work history by dialing (914) 595-4502 or send us a private message through our “Contact Us” box available here.