Work Credits Explained: What are Work Credits and How Many Do You Need to Qualify for Social Security Disability?


Many people do not realize that to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must have worked in jobs that took out Social Security from your paycheck or paid into Social Security if you are self-employed. You must have worked long enough and recently enough to qualify for disability benefits.

Social Security work credits are based on your total yearly wages or self-employment income. You can earn up to four credits each year. The amount needed for a work credit changes from year to year. In 2021you earn one credit for each $1,470 in wages or self-employment income.  Generally speaking, you will have earned four work credits when you have earned $5,880 in that year. Each year the amount you need for a work credit goes up slightly.

The number of work credits you need to qualify 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. You must have earned the required number of work credits within a certain period leading up to the date you became disabled and no longer able to work.


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