Thinking about applying for Social Security Disability Insurance? You are probably wondering how it all works and what the limits are, but what if you’ve never worked before? Can you qualify for SSDI if you’ve never worked before? We can get to the heart of that question quickly and explain SSDI work credits in the process.

Young man sitting in a wheel chair

What Are Social Security Work Credits?

Work credits are how the Social Security Administration or SSA determines your eligibility for many of its programs. You can earn up to four credits per working year, and they are based on how much you earn, assuming the requisite portion of your earnings is getting paid into Social Security.

Read More: What To Do When Your Disability Claim is Denied

In 2022, the amount you have to earn for each credit is $1,510, which means if you work a job, earn more than $6,040, and are paying into Social Security, then you are earning those work credits as fast as possible. Note that work credits do not determine how much you earn, as that is based on average earnings over the course of your working career. Credits just determine eligibility.

How Many Work Credits Do You Need to Qualify For SSDI?

Social security card and American money dollar bills close up concept

This is where things can get a little complicated. There are two “tests” that you have to pass in order to be eligible for benefits. Don’t worry, it’s not an exam, just a check on your work credits. Both of these tests are based on your age. The recency test breaks down as follows:

  • Under 24—6 credits in the 3 years proceeding your disability.
  • Between 24 and 31—Take your age at the time your disability began, subtract 21, and multiply by 2. Essentially, you must have worked half the time between 21 and the beginning of your disability.
  • Older than 31—You need to have earned 20 credits in the 10 years preceding your disability.

The other test is a duration test. Those under 28 when their disability began need to have worked at least 1.5 years. After that, every 2 years adds half a year to the requirement. In other words, you can take the age that you became disabled, subtract 28, divide by four, and add 1.5 to get the number of years you have to have worked to pass the duration test. As an example, if you were 58 when you became disabled, you would subtract 28 to get 30. Divide by four to get 7.5. Lastly, add 1.5 to get 9 years of work history.

These tests do not cover all situations and are only estimates provided by the SSA to assist people who are considering taking advantage of programs like SSDI.

Can You Get SSDI Benefits Increased if Your Disability Worsens?

If You Have No Work Credits Can You Get SSDI?

SSDI was built to cover those who were able to work and then became disabled. If your disability has prevented you from developing any work history, then you have to rely on other programs like SSI and state-backed programs. If you need assistance with an SSDI case in Wisconsin, you can rely on Tabak Law in West Milwaukee.

Can You be on Unemployment While Filing for SSDI?

Nothing posted on this website is intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. Blog postings and site content are available for general education purposes only.

Skip to content