SSD & Work Credits
Due to an injury or illness, you will be unable to perform any kind of job duties for at least a year. This means you should automatically qualify for Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits, right? Not quite. There is another requirement: you must have been working long enough – and recently enough – to accumulate a substantial amount of work credits.
Now, you’re probably asking yourself, what in the world are work credits and how do I get them? Well let us explain.
Whether you receive a wage or are self-employed, you accumulate one work credit for a certain amount of earnings, which is determined by Social Security regulations. The concept is simple enough: the more you work, the more credits you earn. Well, up to a point, that is.
As of 2014, every working individual earns one credit for each $1,200 of earnings. In 2015, the amount will be changed to $1,220. No matter how much you earn, you are allowed to accumulate no more than four work credits each year.
The number of work credits you need to qualify for SSDI benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally, the older you are, the more work credits you need.
- Disabled individuals under 24 must have worked for at least a year and a half (six credits) within the three years prior to the date their disability began.
- Those between 24 and 30 generally need credits for half of the time between age 21 and the date the disability began.
- As for disabled people age 31 and older, at least 20 work credits must have been accumulated within the 10 years prior to the date of disability.
There are exceptions to the rule, however. The following types of employees work in jobs not covered by Social Security:
- Most federal employees hired before 1984;
- Railroad employees who have been working in the industry for more than a decade;
- Some state and local government employees that have chosen to opt out; or
- Children under 21 that perform household chores for a parent.
More information can be found at the Social Security Administration (SSA) website.
Even with this information, you may not fully understand your situation and whether you qualify for disability benefits. This is perfectly understandable. The regulations which dictate Social Security are multifaceted and difficult to comprehend. That is why you should consult with an experienced Los Angeles Social Security disability attorney who can provide you with reliable guidance throughout the whole process.