Houston Social Security
Disability Attorney

Photo of David Dopkin
Photo of David Dopkin

How long must someone have worked to qualify for SSDI benefits?

On Behalf of | Apr 7, 2024 | Social Security Disability

Every employee, from a part-time worker who retired from their main job to a teenager working at a movie theater for spending cash, makes contributions to the Social Security Administration (SSA) with each paycheck. Social Security contributions help fund retirement benefits. They also support crucial disability benefit programs.

Sometimes, those who have worked for a living develop medical challenges and can no longer maintain their employment. They must then look for alternate ways to pay their cost of living expenses, like their rent and grocery bills. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can help someone afford basic necessities and pay some of their bills when health challenges leave them unable to work. However, only some people qualify for SSDI benefits, while others may not meet the strict standards maintained by the SSA. A lengthy work history is typically necessary if someone applies for SSDI benefits.

The basics

Technically, the SSA does not require a specific number of months or years of employment. Instead, what matters is the credits that a worker accumulates during their employment. Employees can earn up to four credits per year. The SSA awards one credit for every $1,730 in wages earned. Regardless of how much someone makes, they can only accumulate for credits a year at the most.

The average applicant seeking SSDI benefits needs to have 40 total credits. Additionally, the SSA looks at when they accumulated those credits. Typically, someone needs to have earned at least 20 credits within the last 10 years to be eligible for SSDI benefits. Those who haven’t worked in years due to family circumstances may not qualify for SSDI.

Some younger workers might assume that they are ineligible for SSDI benefits if they have not worked for 10 years yet. Thankfully, the SSA does have flexible rules for younger applicants. Those under the age of 31 can potentially qualify with fewer than 40 credits depending on their work history.

Understanding the rules about qualifying for SSDI benefits may help those worrying about how they can pay for their cost-of-living expenses. Those familiar with the SSA’s rules may feel more confident about submitting an application for SSDI benefits.