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SSDI- Need one more year of employment to qualify

SSDI and Work Credits

Many workers become disabled with a severe heath condition or disease and apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) only to find they lack several work credits to qualify for benefits. Recently on our disability forum we had a worker ask, “I need one more year of full-time work to qualify for SSDI benefits, what are my options?” This is a tough dilemma, especially for those workers who feel they cannot possibly continue to work. This blog will address your options.

How can I generate work credits for SSDI?

According to the SSA, the number of work credits needed for SSDI will vary based on your age you become disabled. For older workers this means you will generally need approximately 40 work credits. But there’s another catch. Twenty of your work credits must have been earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you became disabled. So if you had enough work credits but you stopped working for an extended length of time, you may no longer be considered “insured” for SSDI.

How do you earn more work credits? You will have to generate earning through work. In 2013, you will need $1,160 of earnings to generate one work credit, generating a maximum of four credits per year.

Can I borrow work credits from a spouse?

Frequently disability applicants ask if they can “borrow” a spouse’s work credits and the answer is no. Unfortunately, all work credits must be generated from your own personal earnings. You cannot buy, steal or borrow work credits from another person or from the Social Security Administration.

The bottom line is if you need to work one more year to generate enough work credits for SSDI the only way you can accumulate another work credit is to work one more year.

What if I absolutely cannot work?

If you do not have enough work credits for SSDI but working is out of the question then you can apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The catch here is that the SSI benefit payment is generally not as high as SSDI payments, you will get Medicaid instead of Medicare, and you will have to have VERY limited income and resources to qualify.

Also, if you are married and your spouse has substantial earnings it is likely that you will not qualify for SSI benefits, regardless of you are severely disabled and you cannot work, because your family’s income level will be too high for SSI.

Unfortunately, this disability applicant is in a bit of a bind. The system is not necessarily fair, but it is what it is. There are requirements and they have to be set somewhere, but unfortunately some applicants get caught in a really tight spot.

Hiring a Disability Lawyer

If you have been denied SSDI benefits because you don’t have enough work credits you generally do not have a good case to appeal (unless you think the SSA calculated your earnings and work credits incorrectly and you have proof to support your case).

It may be helpful to talk to a disability lawyer, but they are likely to tell you that appealing your denial (if you have been denied due to a lack of work credits) will result in another denial.
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