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What are the employment requirements for SSDI benefits?

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2024 | SSDI Benefits

Every working individual, including employees and independent contractors, makes contributions to the Social Security program. They send a portion of their wages to the Social Security Administration (SSA) to fund retirement and disability benefits. Many people then rely on Social Security to augment their personal savings during their retirement years.

A smaller subset of working adults find themselves unable to continue their employment due to medical issues. They may eventually need to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Only those with severe conditions that should last a year or longer qualify for SSDI.

Unlike Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, SSDI benefits require an extensive work history. Those who have never worked, including children with disabling conditions, may qualify for SSI, but only those who have a substantial work history are eligible for SSDI benefits. What employment background does someone generally need to have to qualify for SSDI benefits?

10 years of work are necessary in most cases

The SSA awards individuals credits based on the contributions that they have made to Social Security while working. Workers can accrue one credit for every $1,730 in wages earned annually as of 2024, although four credits is the maximum that they can acquire in any one year.

The vast majority of workers seeking SSDI benefits need 40 credits to qualify, which translates to at least 10 years of employment earning $6,920 or more. Even part-time workers can potentially qualify for full SSDI benefits when they develop a disabling medical condition. At least 20 of those credits should be from within the last 10 years.

Younger workers can qualify with fewer credits. Those aged 31 or younger are subject to different standards for their work history. The overall rule applies an expectation that someone should have maintained gainful employment for roughly half of the time since they turned 21. However, particularly young workers can potentially qualify with as few as six credits.

Someone’s age and their recent employment history as well as their long-term professional habits affect their eligibility for SSDI benefits. Learning more about the rules for SSDI benefits can help people evaluate whether they may qualify.