Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) covers people who become temporarily or permanently disabled and unable to work.
You qualify if you have a medical condition that prevents you from working for at least one year (or is terminal) and if you meet the work requirements. (If you don’t meet the work requirements and have limited means, you might qualify for Supplemental Security Income.)
We’ve talked about the medical requirements for SSDI in a previous post. Today, we’re going to talk about the work requirements.
Not sure if you qualify for SSDI? Keep reading to learn more.
SSDI Work Requirements
Social Security Disability Insurance is a benefit that you gain access to by working and paying Social Security taxes.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) requires your claim to pass two work-related tests in order to be approved: the recent work test and the duration of work test. Basically, SSA requires you to have worked recently and for a certain amount of time (based on your age) in order to qualify.
Let’s look at these tests in more detail.
Recent Work Test
The Social Security Administration’s recent work test requires you to have worked recently in order to gain benefits.
How recently do you have to have worked? Well, that depends on your age.
The SSA bases the recent work test on the calendar quarter in which you turn a certain age. Here are the calendar quarters:
- 1st quarter: January 1 through March 31
- 2nd quarter: April 1 through June 30
- 3rd quarter: July 1 through September 30
- 4th quarter: October 1 through December 31
Below is a table of the SSA requirements for the recent work test.
|When You Became Disabled||Work You Need|
|During or before the quarter you turn 24||1.5 years of work in the 3 year-period before you became disabled|
|In the quarter after you turn 24, but before the quarter you turn 31||Work for half the time between the quarter you turned 21 and the quarter you became disabled|
|In the quarter you turn 31 (or older)||Work for 5 out of the 10 years before the quarter you become disabled|
This table can be a bit confusing, so let’s talk about some examples.
Let’s look at someone between age 24 and 31. If a person age 29 becomes disabled, he or she has to have worked for at least 4 years to qualify. This is because there is 8 years between 21 and 29, and the SSA requires work for at least half that time: that comes to 4 years. Someone who is 30 will generally need to have worked for 4.5 of the past 9 years, etc.
When it comes to the recent work test, it’s important to note that any time you leave the work force will count against you. This even includes being temporarily disabled and receiving SSDI benefits.
It may still be possible to get SSDI benefits even if you do not meet the recent work requirements. If your established onset date (EOD) of your disability started before you stopped paying Social Security taxes (e.g., when you were still working), then you may still qualify.
If you are blind or have low vision, special rules also apply to you.
Contact the SSA or a knowledgeable SSDI attorney if you believe one of these special circumstances applies to you.
Duration of Work Test
You must also pass the duration of work test in order to have your SSDI claim approved.
As you work, you earn “work credits.” The SSA converts your earnings into credits: $1,360 in net earnings comes to one work credit. You can earn up to four credits per year (that’s $5,440).
Note that earning more than $5,440 in one year will not give you more credits.
The older you are, the more time in the workplace (and work credits) you need to have. Here is a table showing (generally) what you need to pass the duration of work test.
|Age When You Became Disabled||Work Needed||Work Credits Needed|
|Before 28||1.5 years||6|
Note that this table doesn’t cover all circumstances. If you have any doubts, speak to an SSDI attorney.
Certain family members are allowed to receive benefits (called auxiliary or dependent benefits) if the worker is receiving SSDI. Family may also receive benefits (called survivor’s benefits) if a worker receiving SSDI benefits passes away. Benefits can be paid to the following family members:
- A widow/widower
- A disabled widow/widower (age 50 or older)
- A divorced spouse (in certain cases)
- A widow/widower who is caring for the deceased’s child (under age 16 or disabled)
- Unmarried children under age 18 or under age 19 if in school full time
- Stepchildren, grandchildren, or adopted children (in certain cases)
- Dependent parents (age 62 and older)
Questions? Contact Us Today
We hope this post clarified some of the confusion around SSDI work requirements. That said, it’s likely you still have questions.
If you want to apply for SSDI benefits, call the experienced Cincinnati, OH SSDI lawyers at Casper & Casper. We’re here to help you understand your options and work for the benefits you need.