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How long do you have to work to claim SSDI benefits?

Adults with disabling medical conditions can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. When someone is unable to work for at least a year because of a significant and disabling medical condition, the Social Security Administration (SSA) can provide them with disability benefits to help them pay their bills and afford the basic necessities of life.

SSDI benefits are an important social safety net. Unlike other government benefits, SSDI is not available to everyone in need but rather only those who meet certain employment criteria in addition to having a qualifying medical condition. Applicants need to have worked for long enough to qualify for benefits.

How do you know if your employment history meets the requirements to claim SSDI benefits?

Most workers have to have 40 credits to receive benefits

It is not what you earn alone but also how regularly you work and how recently you have worked that influence your ability to claim SSDI benefits. Applicants usually need to have at least 40 credits accumulated to receive SSDI benefits.

A worker accrues one credit for every $1,470 in wages that they earn, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) only awards workers four credits a year regardless of how much they work or earn. Typically, you need to have accumulated at least 20 of those 40 credits within the last ten years to receive SSDI.

Some workers who don’t meet the standards can still claim benefits

Plenty of people far too young to have a decade or more of work experience work in dangerous environments. Even a fast-food restaurant could cause a disabling injury, so younger workers sometimes need to make a benefits claim as well.

Those under the age of 24, for example, only need to have earned six credits over the last three years to receive SSDI. There are reduced requirements for workers up to the age of 31 that can help younger workers who get hurt or develop a disabling medical condition, like cancer. Workers can create an account on the SSA website to check their accrued credits.

Knowing the rules about how long you must work to claim SSDI can help you determine if you might qualify for benefits.

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