Both Social Security retirement and disability benefits depend upon how many work credits have been accumulated by the claimant. Both programs require a minimum number of credits before a worker is eligible for benefits.
Work credits are based upon a worker's payments into the Social Security system. Prior to 1978, employers reported their workers' earnings to the Social Security Administration every three months. After 1978, employers reported earnings once a year.
The amount of earnings required to earn a single credit changes from time to time. Currently, a person must earn $1,320 in covered earnings to get one SSA or Medicare work credit. A person must earn $5,280 in a single year to get the annual maximum of four credits. Most people will earn far more credits than are required to receive both retirement benefits and disability benefits.
The amount of credits needed for eligibility for disability benefits depends upon a person's birthdate and the date on which the disability occurs. Most people need 40 credits, 20 of which have been earned in the last ten years before the onset of the disability. Persons who are between the ages of 31 and 42 need 20 credits.
Beginning with age 43, the number of credits increases by one on every birthday. For example, a person who is disabled at age 45 would need 23 credits to be eligible for SSDI benefits. That same person would need 28 credits if the disability occurred at age 50. Everyone over the age of 62 requires 40 credits.
Anyone who is contemplating making an application for SSDI benefits and is wondering about the number of required credits may wish to seek the advice on an experienced SSDI attorney.