Houston Social Security
Disability Attorney

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Photo of David Dopkin

How long must someone work to qualify for SSDI benefits?

On Behalf of | Dec 10, 2023 | Social Security Disability

Most people want to work to support themselves and will do just about anything to retain that ability. Unfortunately, people cannot control when their health may suddenly change. Health challenges, ranging from injuries obtained in car crashes to chronic medical conditions like multiple sclerosis, can affect someone’s ability to continue working.

Some people need time off to recover from an injury or undergo treatment. Medical issues can reduce what someone can earn by forcing them out of well-paid professions. Sometimes, workers have symptoms so severe that they can no longer work at all. In extreme scenarios in which health challenges force someone to leave their employment, they can potentially qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits to replace the income they can no longer earn.

Those seeking SSDI benefits need to have a medical condition severe enough to warrant their application. They also need to have a lengthy work history.

Credits are what determine eligibility

The Social Security Administration (SSA) awards workers credits for the time that they have put in at each job they work. A worker can receive one Social Security credit for every $1,640 they earn. However, the SSA will only grant someone at most four credits each year regardless of how much they earn.

When a worker applies for SSDI benefits, the SSA will look at how many total credits they have accrued and how many recent credits they have earned. Overall, workers typically need to have at least 40 credits or 10 years of work history to qualify for benefits. Additionally, the SSA usually requires at least 20 credits earned within the last 10 years prior to someone’s application.

Of course, people who are too young to have 40 credits and 10 years of work history can develop disabling medical conditions. There are slightly different rules that apply to applicants who are 31 years of age or younger. Fewer credits are necessary for younger workers to receive full SSDI benefits when they become unable to continue working.

Ultimately, reviewing one’s work history and Social Security credits with an attorney before applying can be as important as verifying that a medical condition qualifies someone for SSDI benefits.