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How is work history calculated for SSDI eligibility?

Disability from an unexpected illness or accident could be a real possibility for many readers. According to recent data, almost 11 million Americans receive Social Security disability insurance benefits. The total includes recipients who may be the disabled worker and/or the worker’s spouse and children.

Clearly, the SSDI program is touching many lives. Yet questions about its requirements and application procedures still remain. One such preliminary requirement is work history. SSDI is based upon credits earned for every year of work, with a maximum of four being earned in any single year. 

A law firm, like ours, that focuses on disability benefits can help individuals without a qualifying work history explore other assistance programs that do not include that requirement, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income. For an SSDI application, however, work history must be calculated.

The minimum number of work credits needed for SSDI eligibility increases with age. Workers under the age of 42 who become disabled typically need at least 20 credits, although an exception exists for workers with a disability onset occurring before age 31.

Sound confusing? Unfortunately, work history is often the most straightforward aspect to an SSDI application. Much more complicated is the determination of disability, for purposes of the Social Security Administration’s blue book definitions. An applicant needs to produce evidence in support of his or her application that demonstrates the severity of the disability. In general, the disability must prevent an applicant from doing substantial gainful activity -- another legal definition -- for at least one year. In short, there are many legal requirements for SSDI eligibility, and an attorney can help you understand them.

Source: Heritage Foundation, “What Is Social Security Disability Insurance? An SSDI Primer,” Romina Boccia, Feb. 19, 2015

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