There’s no free lunch when it comes to drawing Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Like any insurance policy, you must pay regular “premiums” before you can collect the benefits. The FICA taxes that you paid while you were working pay your SSDI premiums.
SSDI is a federally mandated insurance program overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that operates independently from the retirement and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. It provides monthly benefits to people under full retirement age (65-67) who can no longer work because of a disability expected to last at least one year or is terminal. Learn more about what you need to know when you apply for disability.
Besides meeting the definition of being disabled, the SSA also requires you to be “currently” and “fully insured.” That means that you must have worked long enough and recently enough to earn enough work credits to qualify.
SSA work credits are based on your total wages, and you can earn up to four credits each year. For example, in 2017, you earn one work credit for each $1,300 that you are paid. Once you’ve accumulated $5,200 in wages, you’ve earned the four credits you need to qualify for SSDI benefits.
The number of credits you need to qualify for SSDI depends on your age, but generally, you need 40 credits. Twenty must have been earned in the 10 years before you became disabled, but younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.
Of course, you still must meet the SSA’s strict definition of disability, and you may need professional SSDI representation assistance to do that. Click here to see how empower by Allsup can help you quickly determine if you have enough work credits, and may qualify for SSDI benefits.