What are “credits” and how do they affect my application for Social Security disability benefits?

Credits are a key factor in determining your eligibility for Social Security disability. The Social Security Administration (SSA) determines your credits by looking at your work history to determine if you have worked long enough and if you have paid enough into the Social Security system to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. If you do not have enough credits, you will not be able to receive Social Security disability benefits even if you are completely disabled.

How You Earn Credits

Your work credits accumulate through the year based on the income you earn and the taxes you pay. Any income you earn from self-employment will be included in your credits as long as you paid Social Security taxes on that income.

You can earn up to a maximum of four credits in one year. The amount of money you need to earn to get one credit can change annually. For example, in 2016 you can earn one Social Security credit for every $1,260 you earn and pay taxes on. Thus, if you earned $5,040 in 2016 then you earned the maximum four credits that you could earn in one year.

The way work credits are earned are the same for everyone. However, the number of credits you need to qualify for Social Security disability is not the same for all workers.

How Many Credits Do You Need to Get Social Security Disability Benefits?

Most people need 40 work credits in order to get Social Security disability and 20 of those credits must have been earned in the last ten years. However, exceptions to the work credit requirements do exist for younger workers who have not yet had time to work long enough to acquire the minimum number of work credits.

To learn more about work credits and whether you qualify for Social Security disability, we encourage you to read our FREE book, Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know, and to contact us via this website or by phone to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced attorney.

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Carl M. Weisbrod
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Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law