When you apply for Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration will review your medical records. The agency will also make sure you have enough work credits.
Learn more about the definition of work credits and how you earn them if you or a family member has a debilitating injury or illness.
Earning work credits
Americans earn Social Security credits depending on their earnings. For 2021, you can earn a maximum of four work credits, one for each $1,470 you earn. Once you earn $5,880, you will have your four work credits for the year.
The SSA adjusts the amount you need to earn for work credits each year. You keep work credits even if you have not worked in several years. Special rules apply if you are self-employed, serve in the military, engage in domestic or farm work, or work for certain religious or nonprofit organizations.
Using work credits
Work credits qualify you for retirement benefits through the SSA as well as Social Security Disability Insurance benefits if you become disabled. You must have 20 or more work credits in the decade before your disability if you apply for SSDI at age 31 or older. Credit amounts vary for younger individuals based on the person’s age when he or she could no longer work. In this case, the SSA will look at both the number of years you worked and your most recent employment.
Understanding these rules can help you determine whether you qualify for SSDI if you become disabled by a serious injury or illness that lasts at least a year.