If you have tried to apply for disability benefits, you may have heard the term ‘work credits.’ It’s even possible that you or someone you know was denied benefits because of work credits. Like many other government rules and regulations, the rules about qualifying for disability benefits can be very confusing. We hope the following FAQs about work credits will help you understand them better.
What are work credits?
Every year, workers have the opportunity to earn four work credits. These credits are based on annual wages earned, as well as self-employment income. The amount needed for one credit can be adjusted annually. So, workers in 2020 earn one work credit for each $1,410 in wages or self-employment income.
How does the Social Security Administration use them?
The Social Security Administration (“Social Security”) looks at these credits when reviewing applications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Some people may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) because of a disability, but work credits are not needed to get benefits.
Do we all have to have the same number to get benefits?
No. Social Security uses a sliding scale based on your age. Above a certain age, you might need 40 work credits. However, the sliding scale looks something like this:
- Before age 24 – You need six credits earned in the 3-year period before the onset of disability.
- Age 24 to 31 – You must have worked half the time between age 21 and the time you became disabled.
- Age 31 through 42 – You will need 20 credits.
- From age 43 to 62 and older – You would need one more credit than the previous year.
If this sounds complicated to you, it is! However, a qualified Social Security lawyer can help you figure it out.
Can I get benefits based on someone else’s work credits?
Yes, in some cases. For example, an adult may get benefits as an adult disabled child based on their parent’s work history. Also, widows and widowers may be entitled to benefits because of credits earned by their deceased spouse.
I haven’t worked in years. Does that matter?
It might affect whether you have enough credits to qualify for benefits. If you are required to have 40 work credits, at least 20 of them must have been earned in the 10 years prior to becoming disabled.
Also, younger people must have earned some of their credits in the time period before disability sets in. Again, this can be complicated, so ask an attorney.
Learn More About Work Credits and How They Affect Your Disability Claim
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Taller have more than 50 years’ experience in the legal field. Much of their work involves Social Security disability cases. For a free consultation, call us at 714-385-8100. Though our office is located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.