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How Long Do I Need to Have Worked to Qualify for SSDI blog header image

How Long Do I Need to Have Worked to Qualify for SSDI?

The amount of work credits required to qualify for SSDI is dependent on your age when you become disabled. Typically, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last ten years. However, younger workers could qualify with fewer credits.

Work History and SSDI Qualification

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you need to have worked a certain amount of years. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses work credits to quantify the amount of years you have worked. The general rule is that you must have worked five out of the last ten years to have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits.

What Are Work Credits?

Simply put, work credits are credits that you obtain by working. Each year that you earn income and pay FICA taxes, work credits are received. FICA stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act, it is a payroll tax. FICA taxes pay for Social Security Disability Insurance, Social Security retirement and Medicare benefits. 

How Do I Earn Work Credits?

In 2022, every $1,510 you earn counts as one work credit. You can receive a maximum of four credits per year. This equates to $6,040 earned annually.

The amount of income required to receive a work credit is minimal. However, just receiving the work credits is only half of the work requirements. The amount of years you must work to qualify for SSDI is also a factor, and this is dependent on age. 

Age and Work Credits

Typically, the older you are, the more work credits you need to qualify for SSDI. There are two tests that the SSA has that you must pass to receive benefits. 

The Recent Work Test

The recent work test looks at your most recent work history. How many years the SSA considers recent is dependent on your age. 

Workers that become disabled after the age of 31 are required to have 20 work credits. They must have earned the credits by working five out of the past ten years.  

Individuals that become disabled between the ages 24 and 31 need credits for half the time between age 21 and the start of their disability. Meaning, if you become disabled at 27 years old, you would need three years of prior work, or 12 credits. 

Those who are disabled before age 24 need to have earned six credits in three years before the start their disability. This means they must have worked at least one and a half years in the three years prior to their disability. 

The Duration of Work Test

The second test that you pass to meet the work credit requirements for SSDI is the duration of work test. To pass, you need to have worked the required amount of years, or earned the required number of credits.

Generally, you are required to have at least as many credits as the number of years since you turned 22.

What if I Do Not Have Enough Work Credits? 

Those who do not meet the work requirements for disability benefits could apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI does not have a work requirement. The eligibility for SSI is based on income and assets. Those who apply will need to have a great financial need to receive benefits.

See: SSDI vs SSI, which Social Security Program is best for me?

Other SSDI Requirements

It is important to note that even if you meet the work requirements for SSDI, there are other factors that can impact your eligibility. You should understand the full requirements for SSDI qualifications before beginning your claims process.

Prior to beginning the claims process, you should also consider hiring legal representation. Navigating the Social Security disability benefits system can be difficult to do on your own. Studies have found that those who choose to work with a disability attorney are three times more likely to win their benefits than those who do not.

Victory Disability is a nationwide law firm that specializes in helping claimants get the benefits they have earned and deserve. There is no fee unless we win. To start your claim today, visit us by clicking here