How do Work Credits Work for SSDI?

Work credits are a crucial component in determining an individual’s eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits. These credits serve as a measure of an individual’s work history and contributions to the Social Security system. Work credits are calculated based on the individual’s income and employment history, with a maximum of four credits per year.

To earn work credits, an individual must earn a certain amount of income that meets the established income requirements for each credit. The exact income requirement changes each year and is set by the Social Security Administration. Once an individual has earned a specified amount of income, they accrue one work credit. The number of work credits required for eligibility may vary depending on the age at the time of disability.

The minimum number of work credits needed to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits is generally 40 credits, with 20 of those credits earned within the last ten years leading up to the disability. However, younger workers may require fewer credits due to their shorter work history. The income requirements and work credits earned are well-documented by the Social Security Administration and are crucial in determining an individual’s eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits.

How Long do I Need to Work for Social Security Disability?

To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), individuals must meet certain criteria related to their age, work credits, and recent work history. Meeting these qualifications ensures that individuals have actively contributed to the Social Security system and are therefore eligible for disability benefits.

The first criterion to qualify for SSDI is age. To be considered, the applicant must be younger than the full retirement age, which is currently 66 years and a few months but increases gradually to 67 years for those born after 1960. This age requirement ensures that the individual has not reached the age of retirement and is still dependent on their potential earning capacity.

Next, an applicant must have accumulated a sufficient number of work credits. Work credits are earned based on the amount of income an individual earns, and the maximum number of credits that can be earned in a year is four. The actual number of work credits required to qualify for SSDI depends on the individual’s age at the time they become disabled. Typically, an individual needs to have earned 40 work credits, 20 of which must have been earned in the last ten years before becoming disabled.

In addition to work credits, applicants must also pass the “recent work test.” This test examines an individual’s work history to determine if they have worked for a long enough period to be eligible for SSDI benefits. The number of years required depends on the applicant’s age at the time they become disabled. For example, an applicant in their twenties may need just one and a half years of work, while someone in their fifties may require seven years.

To check the number of work credits they have accumulated, individuals can access their Social Security Statement online through the official Social Security Administration (SSA) website. This statement provides an estimate of their future benefits, including SSDI, based on their earnings history and projected retirement age. By visiting the SSA website and creating an account, individuals can gain access to this valuable tool and gather the necessary information.

In conclusion, qualifying for SSDI requires meeting specific qualifications related to age, work credits, and recent work history. By understanding these requirements and accessing their Social Security Statement through the SSA website, individuals can determine their eligibility and estimate their potential benefits.

How Work Credits Are Earned

Work credits are essential for determining eligibility for various government benefits and programs, including Social Security retirement or disability benefits. These credits are earned by individuals through their work history, and the number of credits required to qualify for benefits may vary depending on the specific program. In this article, we will dive into how work credits are earned and the factors that contribute to accumulating these credits.

How Work Credits Are Earned:

1. Earnings: Work credits are earned based on the amount of money an individual earns over a specific period. In 2021, an individual could earn one work credit for every $1,470 of income, up to a maximum of four credits for the year.

2. Work quarters: Work credits are accumulated by working during a calendar year and earning a specific amount of income, with a work quarter being the basis for calculating credits. For example, in 2021, one work credit is earned for every $5,880 of income, up to a maximum of four credits per quarter.

3. Self-employment: Similar to employment, self-employed individuals can also earn work credits for Social Security benefits. The calculation for self-employment work credits is different and depends on the net income earned from self-employment.

4. Disability Work Credits: If an individual becomes disabled before reaching retirement age, they can earn additional work credits through programs like the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). These credits are earned based on the individual’s average annual income and the number of years worked before the disability.

5. Combined credits: In some cases, individuals may have earned work credits both through working and receiving public benefits. These combined credits can be used to meet the eligibility criteria for certain programs.

Accumulating work credits is crucial for accessing various social security benefits, making it vital for individuals to understand the factors that contribute to earning these credits. By keeping track of their work history and income, individuals can ensure they meet the necessary requirements for government benefits in the future.


Why SSDI Needs Work Credits.

SSDI, or Social Security Disability Insurance, requires work credits to ensure that individuals have contributed to the program before becoming eligible for benefits. SSDI is an insurance program funded through Social Security deductions from workers’ paychecks. It provides monthly benefits to individuals who have a disability that prevents them from engaging in substantial gainful activity.

The reason why SSDI requires work credits is that it operates based on the principle of social insurance. Similar to other insurance programs, SSDI requires individuals to have paid into the program through their own employment. This work history acts as proof that they have made contributions to the program and are entitled to benefits if they become disabled.

In contrast, SSI benefits, or Supplemental Security Income benefits, are funded through general revenues. These benefits are available to individuals who have limited income and resources and are disabled, blind, or elderly. Unlike SSDI, SSI does not require work credits, as it is a needs-based program rather than an insurance program.

To be eligible for SSDI, individuals must accumulate a certain number of work credits based on their age at the time they become disabled. Generally, 40 work credits are required, with a minimum of 20 credits being earned in the last 10 years before becoming disabled. The number of work credits needed may vary based on the age of the individual at the time of disability onset. Additionally, individuals must meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability, which includes having a severe impairment that prevents them from working for at least 12 months or is expected to result in death.

In conclusion, the work credit requirement for SSDI ensures that individuals who have contributed to the program through their employment are eligible for benefits if they become disabled. This work history acts as proof of their entitlement to SSDI benefits, which are funded through Social Security deductions. On the other hand, SSI benefits are funded through general revenues and do not have work credit requirements, as they are based on need rather than work history.

Learn How to Find Your Work Credit Count.

To find out how many work credits you have, you can navigate to the Social Security Administration (SSA) website and create a mySocialSecurity account. Follow these steps to get started:

1. Open your internet browser and go to the SSA website. The web address is

2. On the homepage, find the “mySocialSecurity” option and click on it. This will redirect you to the mySocialSecurity login page.

3. If you do not have an account, click on the “Create an Account” button. This will take you to the registration page.

4. Read and agree to the terms of service. Make sure you understand the agreement before proceeding.

5. Provide your personal information accurately. This includes your name, date of birth, social security number, and other required details. It is crucial to match this information to what is on your Social Security card.

6. Create a username and password for your account. Make sure to choose a username and password that are secure and not easily guessed.

7. Complete the 2-step verification process. This involves providing a valid email address and a U.S. mailing address. The SSA will send a verification code to your email address or mail the code to the address provided. Enter the code on the verification page to complete the process.

Once you have successfully created your mySocialSecurity account, you can log in and navigate to the “Benefits & Payments” section to find out how many work credits you have accrued. Remember to keep your username and password secure and frequently update your personal information on the SSA website as needed.

At Disability Help Center Nevada, we understand the complexities of navigating the Social Security Disability process. Our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to assisting individuals with their disability claims, providing guidance, and ensuring they meet the necessary requirements for benefits.