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Understanding working credits in SSDI: Part I

Most people understand enough about Social Security Disability Insurance to know that qualifying for benefits is more complicated than simply showing that you have a disability. Because SSDI is funded through payroll taxes, the Social Security Administration requires applicants to have paid a certain amount into the system before they can receive benefits.

The SSA uses working “credits” as the standard for measuring eligibility. There are essentially two ways that a person can be eligible. The first requires an applicant to have amassed 40 working credits throughout their career, which takes at least 10 years. The other way to be eligible is to pass two tests, including the “recent work” test and “duration of work” test.

The most straightforward way to qualify (related to work history) for full disability benefits is to earn 40 working credits. Currently, an individual earns one credit for each $1,200 they earn in income.

But individuals cannot earn more than four credits per year. Therefore, in order to earn 40 credits, you would need to work a minimum of 10 years, earning at least $4,800 per year. For most Americans who suffer disability later in life, this is a fairly easy requirement to satisfy.

In our next post, we’ll talk about how younger workers can qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits by passing the “recent work” and “duration of work” tests. And don’t worry – these aren’t really “tests.” Rather, they are formulas that measure specific factors in your work history. Please check back later this week as we continue our discussion.

Source: The Motley Fool, “Social Security Disability: Do You and Your Family Qualify?” Sean Williams, Sept. 13, 2014

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