The Social Security Administration requires that you have earned enough “work credits” in the past in order to be eligible to apply for Social Security Disability benefits.
What are work credits?
When you work and pay Social Security taxes, you earn up to a maximum of four “credits” for each such year.
The amount of earnings it takes to earn a credit has changed since 1978. In the year 2016, you must earn $1,260 in covered earnings to get one Social Security or Medicare work credit and $5,040 to get the maximum four credits for the year.
The number of work credits needed for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.
This is why, when you call a Social Security Disability attorney about filing for disability, they will probably ask you the following question:
“Have you worked on the books for at least five of the ten years before you became disabled?
If you worked LESS, you may not even be eligible to apply for Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDB.)
In addition, the more you worked and earned over your lifetime, the higher your monthly benefit amount will be!