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How do work credits affect eligibility for SSDI benefits?

Most Missourians understand that a person must be totally disabled in order to obtain Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, but the federal regulations that govern the SSDI claims process impose other requirements on applicants. One of the most important of these requirements is the number of work credits that a person has earned. This post will explore the effect of work credits on an SSD claim.

In general, work credits are earned whenever a person pays what are commonly called FICA or Social Security taxes. (FICA stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act.) Prior to 1978, work credits were earned every quarter of the year. After 1978, work credits are earned on an annual basis. A person earns one credit for every $1,260 in earnings subject to the Social Security tax up to a maximum of 4 credits per year.

The number of credits necessary to support an SSD claim depends upon the applicant's age at the time the disability occurred. For everyone born after 1929, those who became disabled between the ages of 31 to 42 need 20 work credits. The number of work credits increases by 2 for every two years in age. Those who become disabled at age 62 or older must have 40 work credits to be eligible for SSD benefits. At least 20 of the required number of credits must have been earned in the 10 years immediately prior to the occurrence of the disabling injury or illness.

Anyone considering applying for SSDI benefits may wish to consult an attorney who handles disability claims. Such a consultation can provide a helpful explanation of eligibility requirements and an estimate of the likelihood of obtaining an award of SSD benefits.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Benefits Planner: Social Security Credits," accessed on Feb. 5, 2017

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