Social Security Work Credits & SSDI

Social Security Work Credits & SSDI

Many people who are denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) don’t really understand why. Many times it’s a medical reason; sometimes it’s a technical or legal reason.  The younger you are, the harder it generally will be to qualify for SSDI. This is partly because you don’t just have to prove that you are medically prevented from working. You must also prove that you’ve paid into the system long enough to earn the right to receive payments.

Under Title II of the Social Security Act (Federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Benefits), a worker can earn ‘credits’ for work each year that he or she pays social security taxes.  Your working year is divided into quarters. You can earn a credit for each quarter of the year in which you earn a certain amount of money. The amount you must earn in order to receive a credit changes every year.

Quarters of Coverage

You can view the historical amounts that were required for each year, from 1978 to present, by visiting the SSA’s website. However, for 2018, you would need to earn $5,280 in order to receive all 4 credits. In general, you need to have 40 credits of “creditable” work history in order to qualify to receive SSDI, no matter how disabled you become. Even a severely disabled individual cannot qualify if the work credits requirement is not met. You cannot earn more than 4 credits per year.

In short, you would have to work a minimum of 10 years, earning the required amount of money each year, in order to qualify.

Meeting the Work Credit Requirement is Harder for Younger Workers

As you can probably tell, the younger you are, the harder it would be to earn the necessary credits. A worker in his or her 20’s who has spent a few years working part-time, in college, or unemployed while training for a career, may not have had time to earn the necessary 10 years of credits.

It Matters When You Earned Your Credits Too

It’s not just about how many credits you’ve earned; it also matters when you earned them. According to the SSA rules, at least 20 of your 40 credits has to be earned within the 10 years directly preceding the year when you became disabled.

To illustrate this situation, even if you worked for decades and earned more than 40 credits, if you stopped working for 10 years and then became disabled, you could be denied under this technicality. This often happens with spouses who leave the workforce to become stay-at-home parents and later become disabled. Despite having worked for years, they may not have 20 credits earned within the last 10 years prior to becoming disabled.

Dealing With the Frustration of SSDI Denials

Even if you do not qualify for SSDI, you may still be eligible for SSI, a needs-based program that does not require you to meet the work credit requirement. Still, before you give up, just remember that there are a lot of nuances in the federal law. An experienced disability lawyer can help you go over your records and your denial to determine if an appeal may be appropriate.

Get Help Today

Klok Law Firm LLC helps people appeal their SSDI denials throughout South Carolina. If you’ve been denied, before you give up, contact our office to speak with one of our attorneys today.