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How do work credits affect Social Security payments?

Working hard is important to you. After all, you take pride in providing for yourself and your family. Unfortunately, though, a serious injury or illness can make doing your job virtually impossible. If you are planning to apply for Social Security benefits, you must think about your work history. 

When you look at your paystub, you probably see FICA deductions. These deductions represent the amount you contribute to the Social Security system. The Social Security Administration uses FICA deductions to calculate work credits. To be able to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, you must have accumulated a sufficient number of credits during your work history. 

How do you earn work credits? 

Each year, the SSA announces how much you must make to qualify for a credit. For 2019, workers must make at least $1,360 for the SSA to assign one. You can earn up to four credits every year you work, though. 

How many credits do you need for SSDI benefits? 

To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have both a specific number of credits and a certain number of years of work in your past. How many credits you need for SSDI benefits depends on your age. For most workers, at least 20 credits are necessary. Individuals under 30, though, may typically apply for SSDI benefits with fewer work credits. 

The SSA uses a sliding scale to determine eligibility for SSDI benefits. If you want to see how many credits you need for your age and work history, you can take a look at this chart from the SSA. Remember, though, SSDI is complicated. Whether you are eligible for benefits may require a careful legal analysis. 

Do you need work credits for SSI benefits? 

Social Security Insurance is different from SSDI benefits. Because SSI is a needs-based program, you do not usually have to accumulate work credits or work history to qualify for payments under the SSI system. Still, because both SSDI and SSI have specific requirements, you should be certain you are applying for benefits under the appropriate program. 

If you are lucky, you never have to worry about having an injury or illness prevent you from working. Because life can be unpredictable, though, you should know how work credits and work history affect SSDI eligibility.

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