How Much Work History Do You Need to Claim Disability?

How Much Work History Do You Need to Claim Disability?

People who are unable to work because of a disability are often confused by the requirements to claim Social Security benefits. This is understandable. The Social Security Administration uses a rather complex system of work credits to determine if a disabled applicant meets the work requirements to claim benefits.

At Klok Law Firm, LLC, we have experience helping people with disabilities in Charleston and throughout South Carolina navigate the complicated system surrounding Social Security disability benefits. Today, we will explore work requirements, and particularly the “work credits” system.

How to the Work Requirement Works

To better understand the Social Security work requirement, it helps to think of the Social Security system as one big insurance company. With any system of insurance, you must pay in incremental amounts to claim benefits later. In the Social Security system, people pay in over a lifetime, claiming benefits when they need them, such as when a disability prevents them from working or upon retirement.

Work Credits

To determine whether you have “paid your share” over time, the Social Security Administration uses a system of work credits. You build up credits over time through income covered by Social Security. Today, workers earn one credit for every $1,220 of wages or self-employment income. You can earn a maximum of four credits in a year. This system has changed over time however. An attorney can help you determine your earned credits over your working life.

How many credits do you need to claim benefits? That depends largely on your age. In general, the older you are, the more credits you need to claim benefits. Here is how it works at different ages:

  • Under 24: 6 credits earned over the 3 years preceding a claim
  • 24 to 31: 6 credits over the past 6 years since turning 21
  • 31 to 42: 20 credits
  • 44 to 52: 22 credits at the low end to 30 credits at the high end
  • 52 to 62 and up: 30 credits at the low end and 40 credits at the high end

It is important to remember that upon claiming disability benefits, you must have earned your credits within a suitable amount of time before becoming disabled. In general, if you have worked full-time for several years and earn income covered by Social Security, you will likely meet the work requirement.

Keeping Your Records Accurate

The SSA uses your employment history to determine the number of credits you have earned. That is why it is essential to check with your employer to ensure that your personal details are properly documented in all tax forms. You will want to make sure that the details on your Social Security card coincide with those in your employer’s payroll and submitted in W-2 documents.

Get Legal Help

If you are applying for disability benefits, or contesting a denied application, it helps to have an attorney knowledgeable in the Social Security system to assist with your application. The attorneys at Klok Law Firm LLC can help you properly account for your work credits and claim the benefits you have earned. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.