Most people don’t realize that Social Security disability is actually a federal insurance program. This means that you have to have paid enough money into Social Security disability before you are eligible to receive benefits. If you have not paid enough money, in the form of “work credits” to Social Security, then it does not matter how disabling your condition is, you are ineligible for disability benefits. So how many credits is enough?
A “work credit” is one quarter of the year that you worked and paid money into Social Security. If you work full time for one year and your employer pays money to Social Security like they should, you will receive four work credits. The Social Security rules breakdown the work credits requirements based on your age. As you get older, you must have acquired more work credits in order to be eligible. Below is the list of required work credits based on age.
Before Age 24 = 6 credits in the 3 years before your disability starts. Age 24-31 = ½ of the total work time you had available from when you turned 21 until you became disabled. For example, if you become disabled at 25, you had 4 years to accumulate work credits which equals a total of 16 possible work credits. So you would need to have at least 8 credits to be eligible.
Age 31-42 = 20 credits (for all ages over 30, in addition to the number of credits below, you must have at least 20 credits in the past 10 years to be eligible)
44 = 22 credits, 46 = 24 credits, 48 = 26 credits, 50 = 28 credits, 52 = 30 credits, 54 = 32 credits, 56 = 34 credits, 58 = 36 credits, 60 = 38 credits, 62 = 40 credits
These are the eligibility requirements for Social Security disability insurance benefits. If you have more than minimum requirements, that is great because it helps protect your eligibility into the future in case you lose your job later. So keep working hard and know that you have additional protection in the form of Social Security disability benefits if something bad happens to you.