What is the rule on work credits for Social Security Disability?

To be eligible for social security disability, you must have enough work credits.  As you may recall reading here, SSDI (Social Security Disability) and SSI (Social Security Supplemental Income) are entirely two different programs. 

Briefly, SSI is a needs based program, has no work credit requirements, has an asset limitation, and has a maximum amount it can pay an individual monthly.  SSDI on the other hand is different.  You have to be ELIGIBLE for SSDI.  Before we even begin the discussion of whether your medical condition meets the definition of disability for social security purposes, you have to meet the work credits requirement.  The amount you would receive is also calculated based on your earnings and what you have paid into the social security system.

So how many work credits must you have to be eligible for SSDI?

Work credits are based on the amount of time you work, and they are earned each year that you earn a wage and pay income taxes through the SSA.   Generally, individuals can earn a maximum amount of four work credits per year, but specifically, it is dependent on earnings and employment.

So how many do you need to be eligible for SSDI?  The general rule is you must have 20 work credits over the last 15 years.   The rule generally applies to individuals over 30.  There is a different standard for younger individuals.  Here are the details for work credits:

  • 6 credits in 1.5 years if under 24 when disabled
  • 8-18 credits in 2-4.5 years if 24-30 when disabled
  • 20 credits in 5 years if 31-42 when disabled
  • 22 credits in 5.5 years if 44 when disabled
  • 24 credits in 6 years if 46 when disabled
  • 26 credits in 6.6 years if 48 when disabled
  • 28 credits in 7 years if 50 when disabled
  • 30 credits in 7.5 years if 52 when disabled
  • 32 credits in 8 years if 54 when disabled
  • 34 credits in 8.5 years if 56 when disabled
  • 36 credits in 9 years if 58 when disabled
  • 38 credits in 9.5 years if 60 when disabled
  • 40 credits in 10 years if 62 or over when disabled

The best way to determine if you have enough word credits to apply fro SSDI is to call your local Social Security Administration office.  Here is a list of Pennsylvania SSA offices. 

If you have questions about SSDI, you know you can Count on Mooney.  Not only does our firm handle social security disability appeals, should your application be denied, but we also file social security disability applications for your clients.  If you need help with social security disability, contact Mooney Law today at 717-200-HELP or 833-MOONEYLAW. 

Mark Buterbaugh

Attorney representing injured workers and Social Security Disability clients in Pennsylvania and Maryland.