Not everyone can receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Only those with severe, debilitating medical conditions who are not yet old enough to retire will typically qualify. Even those with life-altering health issues may not get benefits if they don’t have enough work history to qualify.
Every time your employer cuts you a paycheck, they withhold money for taxes. They also withhold money to make a contribution to the Social Security Administration (SSA) on your behalf. The SSA keeps track of those contributions and assigns credits based on how much someone has paid into the program. Those credits will ultimately determine whether you qualify for benefits or not.
How many credits do you need to qualify?
For the average adult in their 30s, 40s or 50s, the minimum number of credits necessary to receive SSDI benefits is 40. In addition to having 40 total credits, a worker needs to have accumulated at least 20 of them in the last 10 years, meaning they need to have a recent work history.
Younger workers are obviously at a disadvantage in this system, so there are different rules that apply to employees in the first decades of their careers. Those under the age of 24 will need at least six credits from the last three years to qualify for SSDI benefits. Those between the ages of 24 and 31 need proof that they have worked at least half of the time prior to their injury. Those over the age of 31 need at least 20 credits from the last 10 years to qualify.
Just having enough credits isn’t enough to qualify
If you know that you have accumulated enough credits with the SSA to qualify for SSDI benefits, you may still face an uphill battle when it comes time to apply.
You will also need enough medical documentation about the severity of your condition and how long it will last for the SSA to award you benefits. Many applicants get rejected at first and have to appeal before they get the support they need for a disabling medical condition.
Learning more about the basics of the SSDI program will make it easier for you to apply for and secure benefits.