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How many credits do you need to qualify for SSDI benefits?

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2023 | Firm News

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits have a reputation for being difficult to obtain. Quite a few people get rejected when they initially apply and are only able to collect benefits after they appeal.

There are also plenty of people who think they qualify for SSDI benefits when they truly do not. Sometimes, what they view as a debilitating condition does not actually meet the criteria established by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Other times, the applicant has a condition that is obviously significant enough but they may not have enough of a work history to qualify for full benefits.

Workers accrue credits for SSDI and retirement benefits based on their contributions to Social Security as they work. How many credits does someone need to get full benefits?

Most applicants need 40 credits

For the average applicant over the age of 31, SSDI benefits will require at least 40 credits. Overall work history is only part of the consideration. A recent work history is also necessary.

In most cases, an applicant should have at least 20 credits from the last 10 years of their career to qualify for SSDI benefits. The SSA will add one credit to a worker’s record for every $1,640 in pay they earn. A worker can only accumulate, at most, four credits per year regardless of how much they earn.

In theory, any full-time employee, even those who made minimum wage, could qualify for full SSDI benefits after a decade of employment. Thankfully, there are also rules that protect younger people hurt at work who have not had the time to accrue a decade of working experience.

Younger workers can qualify with far fewer credits when they have a medical condition that will persist for a year and prevents them from working at all. They will usually need proof of at least six credits in some cases or a work history indicating that they have worked half the time since turning 21.

Evaluating the situation is an important first step

People set themselves up for disappointment when they rush into the SSDI benefits application process without first reviewing the rules or their circumstances adequately.

Discussing why someone thinks they need SSDI benefits and reviewing their work history can help improve their chances of success if they do apply.