What Are SSDI Work Credits?

By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

The Social Security Administration will usually pay a monthly benefit to those who are unable to work for a year or more due to a disability. If you are hoping to receive Social Security disability benefits, there are several requirements you must comply with to have your benefits application approved. First, you must have a medical condition that falls in line with Social Security’s definition of a disabling condition. The second requirement is that you must have worked in jobs that are covered by Social Security. This is where SSDI work credits come into play, which we will discuss in more detail here. If you meet the requirements, then you will usually be granted benefits and continue to receive them until you are able to resume your work responsibilities on a regular basis.

What Are SSDI Work Credits?

In order to be granted SSDI benefits, you must have worked long enough, and recently enough, in a job covered by Social Security. Whether you have worked long enough to be granted SSDI benefits will depend on your work credits calculation. Social Security work credits are calculated based on your total annual wages or self-employment income. You can earn a maximum of four credits per year.

Work credits are earned when you pay Social Security taxes on the income you earn from your employment. To be clear, the number of work credits you earn does not impact the amount of disability benefits you will receive. Work credits only go towards considering whether you are eligible for SSDI benefits or not. In other words, you will not be granted added benefits for earning more than the necessary amount of work credits. Your benefits amount will be based instead on your average earnings over your working years.

The required amount to earn a work credit varies year to year. For 2020, you earn one work credit for every $1,410 in wages or self-employment income. This means you will need to earn $5,640 to get the maximum four work credits for the year. Some may able to reach the maximum work credits for the year relatively quickly while it may take others the entire year to earn the maximum. Some may not earn enough to reach the maximum work credits for the year, but that does not mean they will be ineligible for disability benefits. The total of work credits you will need to qualify for disability benefits will depend on the age you are when you become disabled. Generally speaking, you will need 40 credits, 20 of them being earned within the last 10 years. Younger workers, however, may be able to qualify with less credits. 

Disability Attorney

Are you uncertain as to whether you meet the qualifications for disability benefits? Do you need help understanding the work credits calculation or figuring out how much you would be entitled to in disability benefits if your application is approved? Talk to the dedicated attorneys at Disability Advocates Group. We are here to provide assistance and guidance on Social Security disability benefits matters. Contact us today.

About the Author
Ms. Shvarts is the managing attorney for Disability Advocates Group. She opened Disability Advocates Group to assist individuals who became disabled and unable to work to obtain the benefits they need and deserve.  Ms. Shvarts and the rest of the team at Disability Advocates Group are dedicated to assisting individuals obtain Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.