If your job requires you to pay Social Security taxes, you may wonder if and how you will ever benefit from paying into this program. Even if you are far from retirement age, you might need benefits sooner.
Unfortunately, disabilities can impact anyone at any age. If you or someone you love becomes disabled and unable to work, you will need to know if you qualify and how to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
Social Security work credits
The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program pays benefits to individuals (and their family members) who meet certain medical and nonmedical requirements.
The medical requirements look at whether you have a qualifying disability. The nonmedical requirements look at whether you have sufficient “work credits.” Your work credits determine whether you are insured under the SSDI program.
Unlike private insurance policies, you do not need to enroll in a plan or pay any monthly premiums to be insured. However, you do need to have put in enough time performing worked covered by Social Security, and that work must have been performed sufficiently recently.
Whether you are an employee or self-employed, the Social Security Administration keeps track of the Social Security taxes you pay and converts that information into work credits.
How many work credits do you need to qualify for disability benefits?
You earn one work credit for each $1,510 you earn from covered work (this dollar amount is for 2022 but can vary from year to year). You can never earn more than four credits per year (and if you worked prior to 1978, that work is further limited to one credit per quarter).
Your work credits must pass two different tests. The requirements for each test varies depending on the age you were when you became disabled.
The duration of work test
This test looks at your overall number of work credits. Generally, if you are age 28 or older, the total number of work credits required is equal to the number of years by which your current age exceeds age 22. Once you’ve earned 40 work credits, you will automatically pass this test, regardless of your age.
- Example: If you are 40 years old, then you need at least 18 work credits (or 4.5 years of work) to pass the duration of work test.
If you are younger than 28, then different rules apply to account for the fact that you have had fewer working years.
The recent work test
This test looks at the amount of work you have recently performed prior to becoming disabled.
Generally, if you are age 31 or older, you must have worked for at least five years during the 10-year period leading up to the date you became disabled. Different rules again apply to younger individuals who have had fewer working years.
Contact a disability lawyer if you believe that you qualify for Social Security Disability
Hunter & Everage can guide you through the application process and help you get the disability benefits you deserve. Give our experienced disability lawyers in Charlotte, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; and Montgomery, Alabama, a call today.