Definition of Work Credits
Not every worker qualifies for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). To win SSDI benefits a worker must have worked, paid taxes and earned work credits. According to the SSA, in 2013, workers must earn $1,160 in covered earnings to get one Social Security or Medicare work credit, and four credits can be earned each year if the worker earns $4,640 in covered earnings.
To be insured for SSDI, however, most workers will need 40 work credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year they become disabled. Younger workers, however, may qualify for SSDI benefits with fewer work credits. For instance, a 24 year old worker (or younger) may qualify for SSDI benefits if they have 6 credits earned in the 3-year period ending when their disability started.
Claimants who have not worked or have worked and not paid taxes will not qualify for SSDI benefits. Work credits cannot be borrowed or bought. Workers who apply for SSDI and lack work credits will be immediately denied SSDI benefits, and there is no need to appeal the denial (unless you can prove the SSA made a miscalculation). Workers who lack sufficient work credits for SSDI, however, may apply for Supplemental Security Income benefits. Claimants do not have to have a work history to qualify for SSI benefits and do not have to earn work credits.
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