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Social Security disability and the earned credits requirement


Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, like other insurances, is a paid-for insurance benefit. Becoming insured under this program requires that Virginia workers meet multiple criteria. One of those criteria involves that the individual be a worker in a job that provides for Social Security taxation on income and that the individual works so for a sufficient number of years.

The Code of Federal Regulations indicates that an individual’s work earnings cause credits to be earned that the individual retains on his Social Security record forever. The earnings can be from wages from working for an employer or from working as a self-employed person. These credits may cause the worker to be insured for different Social Security benefits at some point in his or her lifetime. There are also other requirements in addition to acquiring a minimum number of lifetime quarterly credits to remain insured for SSD purposes.

With regard to becoming insured for SSD, a worker can gain up to four credits per year if he earns the minimal amount of earnings it takes to earn them. In 2017, each credit requires covered earnings of $1300. Thus, all 4 credits may be gained by earning $5200 in 2017. That amount can change slightly each year. For most adults to become insured they must earn 40 credits. However, younger adults enjoy a lower credits requirement due to their shorter potential working lives.

Importantly, once insured, an increase in the number of credits earned does not necessarily cause a higher SSD benefit amount. The amount of the benefit will depend on the lifetime earnings itself. Generally, a higher lifetime earner will be eligible for a higher Social Security disability benefit amount than a lower lifetime earner.

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