The Most Important Factor In Qualifying For Social Security Disability Benefits

When a person becomes disabled and unable to work, they may be able to collect disability from the Social Security Administration. The most important factor in qualifying for social security disability benefits is to have paid into the Social Security Administration fund. That is, to qualify for disability payments, you must have worked and paid a portion of your paycheck to the administration.

Working Before Claiming 

Even if you have worked, if you have not made a minimum amount, you may not qualify. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the number of work credits needed for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled.

Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which being earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled. Forty credits are equal to 10 years of work. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits:

  • Prior to age 24: Must have six credits earned in the three-year period prior to the disability.
  • Age 24 to 31: Must have credit for working half the time between age 21 and when the disability occurred.

According to the SSA, how credits are awarded has continued to change in recent decades. You cannot earn credits for pension payments, interest, or dividends on investment or savings accounts. It does not matter at which time of the year the work was done or money earned—the minimum earning requirement could have been achieved at any point during the calendar year.

Other Factors to Consider

Having earned enough money is not the only basic qualifying factor to receive Social Security Disability benefits. The older you are, the more work credits you need to qualify for benefits. If you become disabled at a younger age, you will have had to have worked fewer years before being able to qualify. For example, if you become disabled at age 21, you will need six work credits and will need to have worked at least 1.5 years to qualify. If you are 44 when you become disabled, you will need 22 work credits and to have worked at least 5.5 years to qualify for disability benefits.

If you do not have enough work credits to qualify for disability, you may be able to receive benefits through the Social Security Income (SSI) program. To qualify for SSI payments, your income and assets must fall below the SSI limit.

Both Disability and Social Security Income payments are modest. Many states have a state supplement program, however, which varies based on age and disability.

Contact a Lawyer

If you or someone you know has questions about qualifying for Social Security Disability with little or no work credits, the most important step is to contact a disability attorney. Contact an attorney, like a social security attorney today to find out how he or she can help you build a case.