When you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you must meet work credit requirements in addition to meeting the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability. If you do not have enough work credits, you can’t receive SSDI benefits.
SSDI benefits are not welfare. They are paid for with the taxes that workers have taken out of their paychecks. As such, you can’t receive benefits without having a sufficient work history in positions covered by Social Security.
Your work history is measured in terms of work credits. You can earn up to four work credits per year. The amount of earnings necessary for one work credit changes each year, with $1,410 in wages or self-employment income needed to earn one work credit in 2020.
The number of work credits you need to receive SSDI benefits depends on your age but is never more than 40 (10 years of work). For example, a worker who becomes disabled between the ages of 31 and 42 needs 20 work credits (five years of work) to be eligible for benefits. These credits must have been earned in the 10 years before becoming disabled. Workers who become disabled before age 24 can qualify with as few as six credits earned in the three-year period ending when their disability started.
If you don’t have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI, but meet the definition of disability, you may be able to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This is a program for people with limited income and assets that has no work requirement.
The SSDI application and appeals process can be complex. Having an experienced attorney who can advocate for your interests ensures that your rights are protected and increases your chances of being approved for benefits. Social Security disability attorney Mary Ellen O’Connor is an expert litigator who trained new attorneys and lectured extensively before starting her own practice in 2009.
Call O’Connor Law to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation. Our offices are conveniently located for residents of Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Putnam, and Orange counties, as well as those living in Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan.