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Earning Work Credits for SSDI Disability Benefits

Often claimants who have filed for SSDI benefits are told by the Social Security Claims Representative or receive a letter from Social Security in the mail informing them they do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance). Almost all state they have worked their whole life, up until a few years ago, when they became ill and could only work part-time, or had to stop working, or worked sporadically and do not understand if they worked for a long period in the past why they are not eligible for SSDI. Most Americans are unaware that in addition to meeting Social Security’s definition of disability you must have worked long enough –AND recently enough earning the required number of work credits within a certain period ending with the time you became disabled under Social Security to qualify for SSDI benefits. Social Security measures work in “work credits.” You can earn up to 4 work credits per year based on the annual earnings. The amount of earnings required for a work credit increases each year as general wage levels rise. The amount needed for a credit changes from year to year. In 2011, you earned one credit for each $1,120 of wages or self-employment income. When you’ve earned $4,480, you’ve earned your four credits for the year. In 2012, you will earn one credit for each $1130 in covered earnings wages to get one Social Security credit. When you’ve earned $4,520, you’ve earned your four credits for the year. The number of work credits you need for SSDI benefits varies depending on your age and when you became disabled. Workers over the age of 31 years old generally need 20 work credits earned in the last 10 years ending with the year they became disabled. Workers who became disabled between the age of 24 – 31 years of age may qualify if they worked half the time between the age 21 and the time they became disabled, for example, if a claimant became disabled at age 27, the claimant would need credit for 3 years work (12 work credits) out of the past 6 years (between ages 21 and 27). Workers who became disabled before the age of 24 years old may qualify for SSDI benefits if they have the minimum of 6 work credits earned in the 3 year period ending when your disability starts. Most individuals filing for disability do not know their DLI (date last insured), AOD (alleged onset date – the date you believe you became disabled), and SGA (substantial gainful activity) / SGI (substantial gainful income) and how the correlation between these factors effect eligibility for SSDI. The amending of an onset date or applying SGA rules to a claim requires a seasoned veteran whose daily ritual includes cutting thru Social Security’s red tape and is one of the best reasons to retain an attorney who works with Social Security Disability claims at all levels including the initial stage.
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