Work Credits and SSDI Explained

As one goes through their working life, Social Security tax goes towards payment of benefits after retirement or disability. All these details are kept in the form of work credits by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The work credits then determine if a person qualifies for Social Security programs.

If an employee cannot work for about a year due to disability, they receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments. Additionally, family members, such as children with minimal resources, are also compensated. However, you must have worked in Social Security protected jobs.

Earning Work Credits

From 1978, workers started earning up to four credits per year after working and paying Social Security taxes. The report is based on the accumulated wages regardless of when an employee did the actual work. It means you can earn credits for part of the year depending on your income, or it may take an entire year to attain enough for four credits.

The number of earnings required to get credit can also change each year. In 2020, workers earn one Medicare or Social Security credit for every $1,410. As a result, one should make up to $5,640 to get a maximum of four credits. According to the SSA, Social Security will increase in 2021; thus, an employee must earn at least $1,470 to get one work credit.

It’s also possible to exceed the minimum work credit needed to be eligible for benefits. However, the extra credits do not translate to more benefits. Instead, the average earning over working years are used to determine the benefits.

Determining Number of Work Credits for SSDI

To get Social Security disability benefits, you need to have received up to 20 work credits. However, the number of credits also varies depending on the age at which a person becomes disabled.

For persons below 24 years, you may qualify if you have at least six credits. These should be within the last three years of the start of your disability. It can be complicated for those aged 24 – 30 to get fair benefits for a Social Security case. They need to have half the maximum credits possible from 21 years to the time of disability.

Disabled people between the age of 31 and 42 will need 20 work credits to get disability benefits. Those above the age of 42 can determine their work credits more easily. Their credits start at 20 with an increase of two credits every two years.

Proving your Work History and Disability

When applying for Social Security benefits, it’s easy to prove your working history. For every payment received, a small portion is taken for Social Security taxes. The SSA has all the records, and you can create an account on their website to view all details. In case there are any missing records, you need to take documents of recent earnings to SSA such as:

  • Self-employment tax returns
  • Prior-year W-2s
  • Business receipts
  • Pay stubs

These will help to get fair benefits for a Social Security case. The SSA will use them in assessing the number of work credits to determine a person’s eligibility for Social Security Disability.

It’s also crucial to have medical evidence that shows disability and how it limits working ability. The SSA blue book has all conditions and criteria used to qualify for the benefits. Still, a doctor can do a thorough assessment and fill a residual Functional Capacity Form.

If your disability affected your work, you might be eligible for SSDI benefits. You can apply only through the SSA website or get to your local Social Security office. There is an online calculator to help determine your benefit amount.

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